GCIS on social grants & water crisis public awareness; 30 per cent ad spend; SABC / MDDA Board appointment procedure; with Minister & Deputy Minister

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Communications

06 March 2018
Chairperson: Mr H Maxegwana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met with the new Minister and Deputy Minister as well as the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) to discuss a variety of issues. This included: GCIS audience segmentation model in relation to the public awareness plans on the distribution of social grants and national water crisis and the implementation of the 30 percent ad spend and media buying.

The Minister said that the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS’s) mandate was to coordinate Government’s communication systems and ensure coherence regarding information dissemination and messaging by Government. The intentions on the drought and the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) issues were to ensure that GCIS would be able to project Governments coordinated effort in resolving the challenges and inspiring hope about what was being done. On payment of social grants, the DoC through GCIS had been able to ensure that through the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC); it was able to assist in packaging information including dealing with information that came from the processes that were before the constitutional court.

GCIS reported that over the years it had been concerned that its Living Standard Measure (LSM) model was not speaking to what it was trying to do as it spoke to possessions and geographical location but had not spoken to a range of issues Government had wanted to know about its target market. Having combed through its long standing research from 2003 GCIS had put the research through factor analysis, reliability and correlation analysis’ including all related scientifically relevant analysis. It had then subjected that data to attitudinal analysis and had produced the segmentation model .The 5 segmentation models groups were homogenous enough to be a group alone but heterogeneous enough to be separate from the other groups.

Segmentation assisted Government with knowing what message to send and to use what platform of media to reach its market. GCIS was constantly at loggerheads with the Broadcast Research Council (BRC) over its preference to include measurement of community media to measure the reach of Government communication. The budget for media buying in 2010 was around R300 million and had decreased over the period to R180 million. This was because departmental budgets were stretched and the first budget item to be reprioritized in such situations was generally the communications budget.

The Committee wanted to hear more on other Departments and what they had been doing in targeting and coordinating communication of Government programmes. They asked GCIS to supply the Committee with the names of the 65 community radio stations it had referred to in its presentation and what information had been disseminated in respect of the drought in the Western Cape and the SASSA issue.

The committee resolved to first visit the Films and Publication Board and the Media Development and Diversity Agency during oversight week to satisfy itself about their challenges and then decide on a way forward thereafter.

Additionally it was decided that a subcommittee would have to deal with sifting through the interviewed candidates list for the SABC board from 2017 and if there were no available candidates then re-advertising of the SABC board vacancies could be done.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson welcomed everyone and asked the Committee to decide on a few household issues. According to Parliament’s Programme, the Committee was supposed to go on oversight to Gauteng from 27-29 March 2018 however; Parliament’s programme had since changed as the House will be sitting on the 27th. He wanted the Committee to decide whether his office had to ask permission to be excused from the House as its programme had already been decided.

Secondly he proposed that the Committee deal with the issues around the movie “Inxeba” as they were unfolding in the public domain. 

Mr M Kalako (ANC) said the Committee had to request to be allowed to stick to its oversight programme and be excused from the sitting. He added that the Committee would have to issue a statement on the matters around Inxeba.

The Chairperson said that seeing that the film and its related issues affected the Committee and the Department of Communication (DoC) probably both could issue a statement.

Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister, DoC, said the ministry had been briefed on the matters around Inxeba and would probably release a statement in that regard later in the course of the day, having shared it with the Committee first.

Mr R Tseli (ANC) supported the proposals from Mr Kalako.

The Chairperson said that the issue of Mr Rubben Mohlaloga as a member and Chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) was being handled by the Committee and as it had directed; the Chairperson had written to him giving him five days to respond to the Committee, and there had been a response he wanted the Committee to hear.

Mr Thembinkosi Ngoma, Committee secretary, read Mr Mohlaloga’s response to the Committee.

The Chairperson reiterated that he had communicated with Mr Mohlaloga as mandated by the Committee and the matter was being dealt with. There were letters to the chief whip of the ANC’s office and the letter to the Committee from Mr Mohlaloga’s lawyers. Interlinked to this is the media interest on the matter and he had been engaging media on the matter. The most unfortunate engagement on the ICASA matter had been with radio 702 where after the discussion between the Chairperson and Ms Karima Brown, she had proceeded to deal with the Chairperson’s credibility. The Chairperson had laid a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) and BCCSA had responded to the Chairperson and consulted Radio 702 on the matter; and the parties would be meeting soon. The Chairperson had felt it unfair to not challenge the manner in which he had been dealt with by Ms Brown and Radio 702 where the issue was that the Committee had appointed a criminal knowingly and ignored good sense.

The Chairperson submitted apologies from absent members

Minister’s overview

Ms Mokonyane introduced her delegation and noted that part of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS’s) mandate was to coordinate Government’s communication systems and ensure coherence regarding information dissemination and messaging by Government. It was also responsible for the provision of timeous data on developments happening in the media space having had different role players with different established relationships.

The intentions of the DoC on the drought and the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) interventions were to ensure that GCIS would be able to project Governments coordinated effort in resolving the challenges and inspiring hope about what was being done. On payment of social grants, the DoC, through GCIS, had been able to ensure that through the InterMinisterial Committee (IMC) it was able to assist in packaging information including dealing with information that came from the processes that were before the constitutional court (ConCourt).

On GCIS’s strategy, work was being done with Departments and other bodies in the public domain including the agricultural sector as it was mostly affected by the drought; and civil society bodies like the water caucus in the Western Cape (WC) to be part of the interventions. 

Similarly on payment of social grants civil society bodies as well as different stakeholders which had been part of and those stakeholders that had a potential of being part of the South African Postal Services (SAPO) and other service providers intervention to transfer the information of beneficiaries back into Government. The Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) as well as the SAPO were the more critical stakeholders in the SASSA situation.

It was also important that the Committee appreciated that R6 billion had been allocated for the drought intervention which meant that Departments had to then reprioritise because important therein was that: the declaration of the drought as a national disaster did not mean additional funding. Rather it meant consolidation of interventions and reprioritising the resources. Following that would be identification of emergency situation where interventions could be implemented to avoid loss of life, impact on hygiene and the economy. Estimates across GCIS were that it would needed approximately R20 million to raise awareness; provide timeous and necessary information across the different sectors and in relevant packaging.    

Talking with bodies which coordinated beneficiaries of social grants such as women’s organisation, frail care bodies and other Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) through GCIS to give certainty about a smooth transition from CPS dependency to an integrated SAPO intervention, the DoC ensured an informed citizenry to allay all anxieties around the SASSA matter.

DoC continued maximizing the GCIS efficiencies through using existing communication platforms such as community radio stations, vukuzenzele publications as well as piggy-backing on what different sector already had as communications platforms for dissemination of information.

GCIS: Presentation to Portfolio Committee on Communications

Ms Phumla Williams, Acting Director-General (ADG), GCIS extended GCIS’s condolences to the recently deceased Member of Parliament Ms Fezeka Loliwe (ANC) noting her contribution to the work of GCIS.

The Chairperson interjected that as there had been an oversight on his behalf, regarding the untimely passing of Mrs Loliwe the sitting would observe a moment of silence in honour of Ms Loliwe.

Ms Williams said GCIS over the years had been concerned that its Living Standard Measure (LSM) model was not speaking to what GCIS had been trying to do. It appreciated the opportunity to present the new segmentation model it had been using to advise departments and doing media buying to communicate with South Africans. It would also report on the media buying which it had been doing since 2010 when that had been brought in-house within GCIS.

1 Segmentation Model 
Public Awareness: Social Grants and Water Crisis

Ms Tasneem Carrim, Acting Deputy Director-General (ADDG), GCIS, said for many years audiences had found the LSM model wanting as it had spoken to possessions and geographical location but had not spoken to a range of issues Government had wanted to know about its target market.  In trying to better understand the envisaged target market GCIS had combed through its long standing research from 2003 and put it through factor analysis, reliability and correlation analysis’ including all related scientifically relevant analysis. It had then subjected that data to attitudinal analysis and had produced the segmentation model as captured in the presentation.   

The 5 segmentation models groups were homogenous enough to be a group alone but   heterogeneous enough to be separate from the other groups. Uncannily when the replacement of the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) would have been established, referring to the Print, Broadcast and Outdoor Research Councils, they had also produced 5 groups meaning that GCIS seemed to be on the right track. GCIS had tested its segments a few times.   

She said the names of the segments suggested geographical location, demographic realities and their attitudes towards Government.

Who Do We Serve? Government Segmentation Model

Segmentation assisted Government with knowing what message to send and to use what platform of media to reach its market.

Payment of Social Grants

Government Segmentation Model – Rooted Realists

Ms Carrim said that izimbizo were a big factor in the rooted realists and how they preferred to receive Government related information.

As far as the budget allowed GCIS was still rolling out its campaign and had not reached its ideal.

2 Implementation of 30% Ad Spend and Media Buying

Universe

Ms Carrim said the GCIS was constantly at loggerheads with the Broadcast Research Council (BRC) over GCIS’s preference to include measurement of community media to measure the reach of Government communication and she proposed that the Committee engage the BRC and other research councils so that they understood the Committee’s views.

The Roots survey run by Caxton counted 308 community newspapers which GCIS did not consider community newspapers as they were commercial newspapers. There was also the Association of Independent Publishers (AIP) which had 193 independent publishers but GCIS still needed to commission research on the reach of those independent publishers.

GCIS efforts to further Support ad Spend on Community Media

Ms Carrim said some of the produced 549 radio broadcasts with live link-ups had included a successful programme with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ& CD) called ‘let’s talk justice’ where a series of 18 community link-ups had been achieved and repeated.

In terms of the GCIS video units it created short video documentaries from following Minister and the President around which GCIS then shared those with community television (TV) stations for free.  

Ms Williams added that GCIS had structured its media buying software to work around the segmentation model audiences. Additionally GCIS’s research enabled government departments which came to GCIS to better target their messaging and could rely on GCIS’s tracking of its research impact.

The budget for media buying in 2010 had been around R300 million and had decreased over the period to R180 million and without shielding departments, she understood that their budgets had been stretched and unfortunately the first budget item to be reprioritised in such situations was generally the communications budget. 

Deputy Minister’s remarks

Ms Pinky Kekana, Deputy Minister, DoC, said she had been impressed by the work done on segmentation and media buying and surely therefore, that work could be done and shared with provinces as the challenges at national level which had given rise to the need for the work to be commissioned, would have been prevalent in provinces as well. Being able to target topical issues meant that GCIS could follow up on value added tax (VAT) increasing and expropriation of land without compensation as those were topical issues currently, including issues around ‘Inxeba’.

Discussion

The Chairperson said he wanted to hear more on other departments and what they had been doing in targeting and coordinating communication of Government programmes apart from DoC, like the Departments of Social Development (DSD)  and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). As MPs they had constituency offices that Parliament provided for and provinces had provincial GCIS officials or offices so that MPs could utilise those offices to communicate their constituent’s challenges and current issues from Parliament as that was communicating about the work of Government. That would enable citizens to know what Government was doing and for Government to know what citizens needed from their Government.

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) wanted to know whether GCIS had done provincial segmentation across the five segment models it had presented. GCIS had mentioned that it had only measured 31 media connect affiliated radio stations out of the 280 community radio stations known to GCIS; why were the others not affiliated? What could be done to get them on board? Were they not losing out of advertising benefits from GCIS because of their exclusion?

She was confused and needed a better breakdown on ad spend by the DoC through GCIS.  From her written questions to the previous Minister she had understood ad spend on community media to have decreased therefore she needed further clarity.  She had also asked whether there was information on how different Government Departments spent on community media and how community media could be better utilized to participate more in ad spend.

Could GCIS supply the Committee with the names of the 65 community radio stations it had referred to in its presentation and were the stations utilized on a rotational basis or did GCIS use the same stations repeatedly when it wanted messages broadcasted?

What information had been disseminated regarding the drought in the WC and had that originated from GCIS? What type of information had been disseminated to citizens regarding SASSA? Did GCIS know whether SAPO was in fact ready to take over the SASSA payments especially in rural areas?

Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) said in each of the segments presented by GCIS the disabled had been shown and captured as the deaf in particular, but very little research seemed to have gone deeper about people with disabilities and the deaf. Community TV was the only access for her as a deaf individual and her deaf constituency and many times GCIS disseminated information on TV where ministers read speeches however with no access for the deaf as there would be no subtitles or interpreter. She had also stopped watching the DVDs that GCIS gave her as the DVD was also not acceptable. Could GCIS ensure in future that community TV funding increased and content was made accessible to the deaf as well. 

Mr M Tseli (ANC) wanted clarification on the rooted realists’ segment model where 22% had been found in Limpopo; he was concerned about whether the languages listed in that segment model represented the communities in Limpopo.

In terms of GCIS assisting community radio stations with license applications, the Committee had been talking about a moratorium on community radio stations because the challenge had always been start-up community radio stations battling to sustain themselves because of a wide variety of issues, including infrastructure. The Committee’s proposal had been one community radio station in each district.  

Though he appreciated the 30% ad spend by GCIS he was concerned about the support to community media which was not forthcoming from other government departments, therefore he would appreciate a status report and audit  on the support that Departments and state entities were giving to community media. He wanted to know what local municipalities were doing to support community media.

Mr M Matshoba (ANC) said that DoC had several entities that were struggling with others managing to stabilise. She said that Gugulethu Township in Cape Town was celebrating 60 years since its establishment but was still without a community radio station. Her plea was for the new executive of DoC to look into assisting Gugulethu to establish a radio station. 

Mr Kalako recommended that GCIS also share its research with the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) so that it could be better informed on how to spend and enrich the quality of work produced from community media. The presentation also called upon the Committee with reference to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to ensure that community media received the necessary attention as community TV stations were localised; catering for content relevant to the regions wherein they operated. He asked for a breakdown of how the R19.9 million set-aside, for drought interventions communications had been arrived at and how provinces would be allocated funding for communication. How much from that money would go into drought ad spend for community media?

Minister Mokonyane replied that since 2017 there was an IMC dealing with Government communication where both GCIS and BrandSA participated. As part of that IMC Minister Mokonyane and her colleagues had identified a need to deal with the ongoing decrease in spending on Government communication and to interrogate what actual communication expenditure entailed. Additionally the IMC had been tasked with finding other ways for information dissemination and through GCIS the DoC had been working with provinces and local Government to map out all community facilities in South Africa (SA). The IMC had identified municipal facilities and partnerships with faith based organisations as other ways of information dissemination.   

Parliamentary Constituency offices (PCO’s) were also important, as points of dissemination of information about Government interventions and programmes and the Committee’s suggestion was that the PCO’s be included in the mapping exercise on Government facilities throughout the country.  On Corporate Social Investment (CSI), the DoC would have to track those resources and see how big corporates could redirect those towards community media and empower communities in the process. 

Ms Williams answered that GCIS had decided in 2018 any Government Department approaching GCIS with a proposal for R2 million, GCIS would cream off 30% spend quotation for community media. GCIS anticipated that there would be resistance but the decision had been made and because a similar thing was being done on other procurement, GCIS intended to make Departments understand that they had to contribute towards community media.  

Indeed there was a moratorium on licenses for community radio stations but the assistance by GCIS was for stations that wanted to renew their licenses and not new stations.

In terms of the language representivity in Limpopo; the advantage of having nine provincial offices meant that GCIS’s the realists’ segment model thrived on even using indigenous languages. That meant that pamphlets would be printed in the language most dominant in a particular province or region and GCIS also conducted round tables in such localities and situations. GCIS provincial offices had developed databases of contacts within their regions and districts where GCIS’s mandate was to force district mayors and councillors to use community radio stations. GCIS had invested in training councillors and Mayors and demystified the matter of local politicians refusing to go to studios and doing interviews as that probably was the only source of income of a district municipality radio station.

The messages regarding SASSA varied as there had been fear in November 2017 that SASSA cards would expire and beneficiaries world not be able to access their grant payments. The message punted in the defined segment at the time was that there was no expiration of cards at that time and that had worked well. The newest message that GCIS was circulating was the use of PostBank for those that did not have bank accounts and the use of banking accounts by those who already held bank accounts for receiving their SASSA payments.

GCIS only could afford the 65 radio stations without rotating them.

GCIS had been submitting reports to Parliament on a breakdown on ad spend with figures. 

Ms Carrim said GCIS did not consider media connect community radio since it provided bulk services to commercially run radio stations. The GCIS did not necessarily invest with media connect and the presented figures were figures collected by the BRC. Thus GCIS had reported to the Committee that probably GCIS needed to engage more regularly with the research councils about what more they needed to do regarding community media. The way GCIS dealt with community media was through direct and live platforms through SENTECH. As Ms Williams had earlier noted GCIS was restricted by budgets to do more and whether community radios were compliant because for example if their tax clearance certificates were not in order or they had not submitted a quote then that would be limiting. The more popular and established community radio stations sometimes found the amount GCIS paid too little.

The breakdown for the drought crisis budget; GCIS had proposed to the IMC R8 million for radio, R864 000 for print, R 7.2 million for TV and R5.1 million for outdoor broadcasting. In terms of whether community radio had been included in that budget; the roll-out had been more effective on community media as opposed to commercial media since GCIS had more control on community media.

The lead Departments on drought crisis were the most dominant though GCIS coordinated the team because the lead Departments brought the budgets.

Mr Tseli said that he was concerned that the segmentation models were sometimes general and others attempted to be specific about language representivity and that could skew the report messaging; therefore he proposed that be clarified as he had not seen Tshivenda in the rooted realists segment though 22% of the realists came from Limpopo provinces.

The Chairperson thanked the DoC and GCIS for responding to the invite by the Committee but asked that the secretary supply the Committee with details about GCIS provincial and national offices so that the Committee could walk-in to engage the employees there. He asked that the DoC to please respond to Ms Matshoba’s plea regarding the community radio.

Committee announcements

The Chairperson said that the Committee would have to reflect on the Film and Publication Board (FPB) at some stage and the Committee also had to date three vacancies on the SABC board. There were also four vacancies in the MDDA. There currently were big challenges with the MDDA which the Committee had to confront. If it decided to; it had six months leeway to appoint new board directors at the MDDA before the current term ended, that also included directors for the SABC vacancies. The Committee still needed to investigate the MDDA.

Mr Kalako proposed that the Committee had to try to resolve the matters of the SABC board in the available six months.

The Chairperson interjected that the problem also arising at the entity boards was the need for a chartered accountant and gender parity regarding female board members. The SABC board was currently skewed against women.

Mr Kalako said because of the seriousness of the problems at the FPB and MDDA it was better for the Committee to visit the entities and to simply overhaul the two boards completely. There currently was no existing FPB as it was not holding meetings.

Ms Van Dyk proposed that the Committee re-advertise for all the vacancies in the boards of the three entities because regarding improvements in governance at the SABC she was positive that high calibre people could be appointed and would be interested to serve on the boards. 

Mr Tseli said that possibly with the SABC; the Committee could revisit the candidate list it had, to see if the candidates who had been interviewed were not available to assist the SABC. Barring finding appropriate people the Committee could then re-advertise.

The Chairperson said the last proposal accommodated both the earlier proposals and the Committee could plan around those within the week of the meeting. It would then arrange to visit the FPB and the MDDA during oversight week to satisfy itself so that it could decide on a way forward thereafter.

On the last proposal he suggested that a subcommittee deal with sifting through the interviewed candidates list for the SABC.  If even after that exercise there were no available candidates then re-advertising of the vacancies could be done.

The meeting was then adjourned. 

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