The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has called on media companies Tiso Blackstar (Tiso) and Independent Media and News South Africa (INMSA) to immediately bring to an end the spat between the companies “which has unnecessarily been going on for an extended period”.
The PIC made the call after Tiso Blackstar responded to a column written by Independent Media owner Dr Iqbal Survé last week, which read as a scathing attack on newspaper Business Day and one of its journalists Carol Paton.
In a letter issuing a “public challenge” to Survé, the media house calls on him to “silence his critics, not with innuendo, misrepresentations, blatant lies, and inflammatory accusation, but with facts”.
The Citizen reported last week that Survé had unleashed a torrent of abuse on Business Day, owned by his company’s rival Tiso Blackstar, slamming them for “hypocrisy and lies” and alleging that the newspaper applies a “different standard” to “white companies as opposed to black companies” which he says demonstrates “subliminal racism”.
Survé went on to accuse Business Day’s Carol Paton of having “rehashed” allegations against Dan Matjila “repeatedly in the Goebbels tradition of propaganda”.
In a statement on Friday, the PIC said: “Up to now, the PIC has not expressed a view on this spat, given that it is invested in both INMSA and Tiso and always tries not to interfere in the internal affairs of investee companies to the extent reasonable. However, the sustained spat requires that the PIC deviate from this tradition.”
The PIC said it has never at any time requested Tiso to assist it with regards to the management of INMSA, as alleged in the statement issued by Tiso. The corporation said it was Tiso that approached it on a number of occasions, requesting the PIC to facilitate a meeting between Tiso and INMSA to discuss possible areas of collaboration.
The PIC further stated that the continued spat between these media companies does not help the media industry and helps to entrench the belief that it is subjective in its posture.
“The PIC strongly encourages media freedom as it is a fundamental right enshrined in the South African Constitution. PIC’s support for this freedom is practical and extends to media diversity – in terms of ownership, control and diversity of views,” the corporation’s statement reads.
It said it has a 25% equity in INMSA, 10.999% shareholding in Tiso, 16.585% share in Naspers, a 0.955% equity in Caxton and that “it is exposed to Primedia a private equity fund”.
“The PIC strongly believes that both Tiso and INMSA must at all times concern themselves with and focus on two fundamental issues: creating value for all investors, and informing and educating members of the public on important things that matter in their lives in the name of nation-building.”