Johannesburg - Public hearings hosted by the Print and
Digital Media Transformation Task team were indefinitely postponed after the
Times Media Group pulled out, the team said on Monday.
"Times Media Group is the second company of the major
four to do so, citing an on-going investigation by the Competition Commission
into anti-competitive behaviour," the task team said in a statement.
The meetings would have been held on Thursday and Friday.
However, the team said hearings would continue on Wednesday
and part of Thursday with the government, the ANC, Sector Education and
Training Authorities, the SA Audience Research Foundation, and advertisers.
The Times Media Group told the team on Friday it was pulling
"At an emergency meeting on Monday, the task team
decided to go ahead with the hearings for the stakeholders, but expressed its
disquiet that two of the four major groups that tasked them to do the work have
Media group Caxton announced it had pulled out in January.
This was also linked to the investigation by the Competition Commission.
The commission is probing suspected anti-competitive
behaviour by Caxton, Naspers, Times Media, and the Independent. It was reported
at the time that the four media houses were informed in December that the
commission was investigating the alleged sharing of markets and information.
The anti-competitive allegations first surfaced at a
Competition Tribunal hearing in March 2012 about a proposed merger between
Media24 Limited, Paarl Coldset, and the Natal Witness Printing and Publishing
The transformation task team, from which Caxton and the
Times Media Group had withdrawn, was set up in August to help the media industry
develop a common transformation strategy.
The team is examining issues such as ownership, management,
employment equity, skills development, and the low level of black ownership in
many large media groups. Last year, it said it aimed to conclude its work by
The task team was established after parliament's portfolio
committee on communication criticised the print media sector and called for a
Print Media SA - now called Print and Digital Media SA -
rejected the idea and said the media industry would deal with the matter in its