Mr. Cai Mingzhao: President of Xinhua News Agency and Executive chairperson BRICS Media Forum, China
Dr, Iqbal Survè: Executive Chairman of Independent Media, Co-Chairperson BRICS Media Forum, SA
Mr. Jose Juan Sanchez, Co-Chairperson BRICS Media Forum, Brazil
Mr Gornostaev, Co-Chairperson BRICS Media Forum, Russia
Mr. Padmanabhan, Co-Chairperson BRICS India
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me first of all start by saying how grateful I am to be here today to address the 3rd BRICS Media Forum. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the BRICS Media Forum Liaison Office for helping organise this wonderful event.
This BRICS Media Forum takes place during the year in which we celebrate the centenary of two freedom fighters, Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela under the theme: “Be the legacy”, as well as Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu under the theme:
“A Woman of fortitude”. The centenary celebrations of these two icons have a significant impact in bringing diverse South Africans together.
These celebrations are meant to highlight the principles and values espoused by these two colossus and to galvanise the spirit of national pride and Ubuntu. And it is in the spirit of Ubuntu that we receive and welcome all of you, from near and far, at this the 3rd BRICS Media Forum.
It was during the dark days of the tyranny of apartheid that the white media referred to these two icons of our struggle as “terrorists” only because they had fiercely and fearlessly fought against apartheid, which the United Nations referred to as a crime against humanity. Accordingly, the any person could be a patriot, on the one hand and a so-called “terrorist” on the other, depending on which side the media is looking at them.
The history of our struggle has, in many ways, demonstrated the dualistic nature of media in our country. In the same breath, we have a plethora of anecdotes wherein media played an important role to garner support for the people of South Africa in their struggle for freedom.
One of the important pillars of our struggle against apartheid oppression was international solidarity which was proffered to us in many ways, one of which was through positive stories about the nature of our struggle. In this regard, media played an important and prominent role in helping mobilise our people against apartheid as well as enlightened them about the inter-connection of our struggle with other people’s struggle the world-over.
The Advent of New Technological Advancement:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we advance toward the innovative dispensation of the 4th Industrial Revolution we are also alive to the fact that South Africa has to deal with the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment which impact on the BRICS member states, to varying degrees.
The irony of the 4th Industrial Revolution is that it impact on all nations, rich and poor. And, therefore, it is incumbent upon us as South Africa to see how we could utilize the technological advancement at our disposal to deal with the challenges and find synergies with other countries within the BRICS block to foster a more humane, inclusive and just world order.
The advent of new social media platforms brings in new challenges for the traditional print media which had enjoyed dominance for many centuries. How then, in this connection, do we utilize the necessary Media Cooperation as a platform for engagement considering that social media itself allows interactive engagements.
The use of social media ensure that information gets disseminated promptly and its reach is extensive. Google, Facebook. Twitter, We Chat and Instagram are, for example, some of the application that are utilized to disseminate information at our disposal.
Therefore, then, it should be agreed that Mass Media in its broad sense, whether written, broadcast or spoken can reach a large audience. This may include television, radio, advertising, the internet, newspapers and magazines. Mass Media is, therefore, a significant force in modern culture, throughout the world.
Meaningful Media Cooperation:
Indeed, due to the history of our country and the legacy thereof, our government would like to see media being used as a mechanism that could be unleashed in the effort towards nation-building and social cohesion, ensuring that we develop an enlightened citizenry as well help in putting together the building blocks of democracy.
It is worth noting that within the BRICS nations, South Africa is the youngest democracy, only 24 years old. The rest of the countries within the BRICS have had a long history as nation-states. In this regard many of our challenges would actually be mitigated by the extent to which we see our country as a “’nation under construction.”
Admittedly, there is a lot that South Africa could learn from fellow BRICS members about democracy and nationhood.
Consequently, it is worth noting that the best Media Cooperation should not only be within the confines of the media rooms and publication but through people to people engagement as well. The media organizations within BRICS would make the biggest difference if they were to succeed in getting people talking, whether face-to-face or across virtual networks. Admittedly, Social media enables such discussions, broadening them beyond geographically defined communities and existing editorial agendas, and at a scale hitherto unimaginable.
For any modern media organization that predominantly produces mass media outputs, social platforms enable them to see how people respond to the content and debate the issues raised in their programmes. In turn, a loop is created wherein they observe and interact with audiences in a way that is not possible with legacy media like newspapers and TV.
Clearly, in the manner in which we would want to forge Media Cooperation within the BRICS bloc, it is inconceivable that we would ignore the social media platforms. It can only be true that, its role and influence within which the information ecosystems media organizations work in, will only grow and therefore, its ability to support positive development outcomes demands further exploration.
However, in the main, the media of BRICS countries should be an instrument to promote peaceful development, cooperation and equity. Importantly, we should share our experience with as well as learn from each other to better cope with change in the fast-changing media industry.
As the BRICS bloc we should strive to do better in coordinating our efforts to deal with the challenges that beset the world, including fighting terrorism, eliminating poverty and hunger, dealing with economic imbalances and addressing climate change.
BRICS media should become the champion of peace and development, promote the common development of the five-member bloc, and safeguard the common interest of emerging markets and developing countries.
Transformation of media to foster an inclusive, just world order:
It is apparent that the objectives outlined herein above will only realise in the South African context if we all subscribe to a shared vision of a South Africa we envisage.
In South Africa the media are free to carry out its vital functions without fear or favour. Since 1994 the media have shone a light on issues that are vital to the public and to our democracy. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press and other media is enshrined in our Constitution. The Constitution also protects the freedom to receive or impart information or ideas, freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
I can guarantee you that these freedoms are important to government and that we will continue to nurture and protect them. Our commitment to freedom of expression and a free media remains steadfast.
It is also our firm belief that transformation goes far beyond just the nuts and bolts of media ownership and representivity. A truly transformed media can play a greater and more meaningful role in ensuring that citizens have greater access to information. If we allow information deficit to arise we risk creating a new divide between those with access to resources and those who have none.
Suffice it to say, that a transformed media have a greater role to play in ensuring people make informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. It is our joint responsibility as government and media to contribute to the development of this country and the BRICS bloc as a whole.
Our transformation journey is about building on what we have and making it representative and relevant to a wider spectrum of society. It’s safe to say that there has been significant progress in terms of media transformation.
However, the ownership and control of media still largely remains in the hands of a few. This extends not only to media itself but across the entire value chain of publishing, printing, distribution, circulation, research and advertising.
It simply cannot be acceptable that patterns of ownership across the entire value chain still remain largely unchanged 24 years into our democracy. Generally speaking, I think more needs to be done by media in South Africa to truly and meaningfully engage in fostering an inclusive, Just World Order within the BRICS Media Cooperation.
Forums such as the one we are attended today are really important and should be appreciated even more considering that this has become an important platform for Media organizations to carry out policy dialogue and deepen pragmatic cooperation between the BRICS member states.
The BRICS Media Cooperation should play a positive role in promoting people-to-people exchanges and enhancing the traditional friendship amongst the BRICS member states.
In striving to foster an inclusive, Just World Order, we should do so by enhancing cooperation in key sectors such as news coverage, content development and channel development. And should also continue to support media digitization and capacity building amongst the BRICS member states and promote the timely sharing of development experience between members in media operation, programme production, technical services and creation of talent pipelines for us to deepen industrial cooperation.
And finally, we should foster a shared vision for the development of mankind and play a constructive role in building a peaceful, safe, prosperous, open and beautiful world – an inclusive, Just World Order.