This is the same audience and clients the media industry would aim to tap into. With more Africans connected, the media can ensure a transitional shift to a digital-based source of revenue. If not, African media will continue to operate in a fragile environment whereas in times of crisis, they just collapse and close business.
"Netflix, and other streaming services, along with YouTube will have seen audience growth during the lockdown. This is symptomatic of what may happen in the news media generally, that is that the stronger participants in the industry become even stronger at the expense of the weaker," a South African print and digital publishing media industry report by PR Newswire says.
A Harmed Sector, Media Professionals in Trouble
Since the first cases of Covid-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa in early March 2020, the media has continuously made essential contributions when it comes to informing citizens about the development of the disease, raising awareness about protective measures, uncovering misinformation, countering rumors and promoting the sharing of good practices. Nevertheless, the media and journalists are facing troubles of their own, with no assistance or support whatsoever.
Nation Media Group, the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa with operations in print, broadcast and digital media, has implemented cuts in salaries since early May. It was the case for journalists and staff working for five leading media groups in Kenya who saw cuts in salary go up to 50% due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even in countries that did not impose a lockdown on citizens, things did not improve for media houses. In Burundi for example, corporations stopped advertising, while the top management adopted working from home. Revenues extracted from advertisement went almost to zero. The Ministry of Health called for a patriotic stance. The broadcasting and spread of Covid-19 security measures were not a paid service in any media platform.
The challenge was similar in Tanzania, a neighbor to Burundi on the southern border, who did not have a generalized lockdown either. There, again, corporate officials were working from home, avoiding contact and risk. A veteran journalist in the country reports: "The industry is affected as businesses slowed and so did the adverts. Some big media houses like Mwananchi Communications Ltd, which publishes three newspapers including The Citizen newspaper, painfully cut off 50 people in April when Covid-19 was in peak. The company also stopped printing The Citizen newspaper during Saturdays and Sundays. It's only available electronically".