Zille supports cancellation of Cape Times
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“It is purely a consumer choice,” says Western Cape Premier Helen Zille openly defending her provincial government’s decision not to renew its subscriptions to the Cape Times newspaper when they expire.
According to News 24, Zille was interviewed by Talk Radio 702‘s John Robbie on Tuesday morning after she raised concerns in her weekly newsletter about the state of the newspaper’s reporting, accusing it of plagiarism and “shoddy journalism”.
The decision was criticised by SA National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) and ANC Western Cape.
Sanef said it found Zille’s interference in the affairs of provincial departments criticised by the SA National Editors’ Forum and Awhich said it found Zille’s interference in the affairs of provincial departments horrendous
“Premier Helen Zille must come clean on her unwise cancellation of a newspaper’s subscription only at one media house as a punitive measure for not following her manipulative line,” says ANC.
In the report, Zille told Robbie that she could not understand the controversy, and that Sanef should be upset about the plagiarism that the DA exposed in the Cape Times.
“This extraordinary attitude of Sanef that somehow deciding not to purchase a particular newspaper amounts to an attack on the free press is just bizarre,” she argued.
In a statement on Monday, Independent Newspapers said it respected any reader or organisation’s right to choose to consume the publication of its choice, but found the manner in which the provincial government’s directive had been issued to be “an unprecedented abuse of power and completely unacceptable”.
Not politics, but consumer choice
Zille said the decision not to renew the subscriptions was made by the provincial cabinet and was not related to politics, but rather to professionalism and consumer choice. A statement refuted by Marius Fransman ANC leader in the Western Cape.
“What makes newspapers a special product that somehow one has to subscribe to?… Newspapers must understand that they have consumers as well, they are not special products.
“The bottom line is that we do not have to subscribe to a product that is that weak, in fact that does amount to fruitless and wasteful expenditure,”
Marius Fransman ANC leader in the Western Cape was against the decision.
“This is again another rush measure to curb freedom of the media and free speech. It is aimed at oppressing the Independent media as it does not want to succumb to writing only sweetheart stories as the DA dictates,” he says
Zille denied telling provincial government departments not to advertise in the newspaper or boycott it, merely not to renew the subscriptions when they lapse.
“Why is it a problem with anyone if we decide not to purchase Newspaper A but rather purchase a more reliable product that will give us the facts honestly and fairly and will not engage in plagiarism, why is that a problem?”
Zille told Robbie she couldn’t care what newspapers other provincial governments subscribe to, and if they cancelled subscriptions, as long as they subscribed to newspapers that added value with news and analysis. “I couldn’t give a damn,” Zille said. “You have to make sensible consumer choices.”