As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cut into advertising and circulation capabilities, Media24 has announced they may close five of their magazines, two newspapers and reduce the frequency of their monthly magazines.

Among other interventions, the company may soon transform two newspapers to online-only versions and reduce overall staff providing support services on these projects.

“The pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline in print media, resulting in a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations with significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April,” said Ishmet Davidson, the CEO of Media24, in a statement on Tuesday morning.

“For many of our print titles the benefits of prior interventions to offset the structural declines and keep them on the shelf no longer exist and they’ve run out of options in this regard.”

Approximately 510 staff members are expected to be affected by the company’s shift with reductions of close to 660 positions being proposed, out of a total of 2 971 staff members.

According to the company, they will continue to produce and publish weekly flagship magazines such as Huisgenoot, Landbouweekblad and YOU, in-house. Staff in Media24’s divisional and corporate service departments as well as its media distribution business will be reduced as well.

On the newspaper front, the cuts are a major blow to smaller, region-specific papers. The company said it intends to close the Son op Sondag and Sunday Sun and the Eastern Cape edition of Son. Community newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal: Amanzimtoti Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Hillcrest Fever and Maritzburg Fever will also be closed permanently.

Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap are to be published as weekday digital editions only and a number of gazettes and smaller newspapers will be consolidated under single titles.

“We are fully committed to managing this highly sensitive consultation with compassion while following the process as prescribed by law. Unfortunately, we cannot share any further details until the process has been concluded,” said Davidson.

South Africa’s print industry has taken a heavy blow amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with many well-known publishing companies closing for good, including Association Media Publishing responsible for titles like Cosmopolitan and House and Leisure.

The future of media in South Africa is one that will be vastly different from what we have come to know over the years.

ALSO READ: Associated Media closes doors after 38 years

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