The department of communications has spent “disproportionately” more than R10m on advertising in The New Age newspaper in the last financial year, the Democratic Alliance said on Thursday.
According to the DA, this amount accounts for 11,2% of government ad spend across 248 publications.
DA MP Gavin Davis says in a statement that government’s spending on the Gupta-owned newspaper is “skewed”, despite its low readership relative to some other titles.
Government spent roughly the same at the Sowetan as it did at The New Age, despite the fact that the former title has more than 10 times as many readers, according to Davis.
“The government spent R2,3m more on advertising in The New Age than the Daily Sun, even though the readership of the Daily Sun — at 5,3m, according to Amps figures — is 35 times more than The New Age’s readership of 153 000,” Davis says.
“The only explanation for the disproportionate adspend on The New Age is that it is owned by the politically-connected Gupta family, and because its editorial stance is unashamedly pro-Zuma. This is an abuse of public funds that [communications]minister Faith Muthambi must answer for in parliament.”
Davis says he wants Muthambi to explain to parliament whether there was a “specific directive to spend disproportionately more on The New Age than other publications”.
He also wants the minister to set out the criteria used to decide how much government spends on advertising per newspaper and whether the department of communications makes use of an independent media-buying agency to give it strategic advice on where to advertise.
A department of communications spokesman has been asked to comment on the DA’s statement. — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media