This is certainly the year for media owners. They merge, they change key staff members, they change ownership, they just change.

After some 11 years with M-Net/Oracle, Errol Pretorius resigned to join National Geographic in the UK in a senior sales position.

Then Jonathan Procter, the managing director of resigned before he had spent nine months at the station. His position has been filled by Marcel Golding from Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI).

Midi`s chairman, Nomazizi Mtshotshisa, and another director, Kuben Pillay also resigned. The reports suggest that the IBA rejected HCI`s offer to buy out Midi`s shareholding.

Evidently Warner Bros` support is behind industry newcomer Marcel Golding.

There is also lots of news on the radio front.

Malcolm Fried was general manager of both 94.7 Highveld and 702 after Lorraine Hadfield left as 702`s general manager. She is now the new managing director of AC Nielsen and Fried looks after Highveld. Malcolm Russell has been appointed as general manager of 702.

Mike Ford took over Classic fm after Eon de Vos left. De Vos now flies full-time with NAC.

Kfm has been sold to Primedia but the IBA still needs to give the deal the nod. When that happens Primedia will have an effective monopoly of commercial radio stations in the Cape Peninsula.

Kaya FM promises to become a force to reckon with after Stan Katz bought a significant chunk of it. He is joined by Bob Mabena (ex Highveld), Rivak Bunce (ex Primedia Strategic Marketing) and, rumour has it, Ken Modise as programme manager (ex head of Radio Active).

Earlier this year, ex-IBA councillor Pietie Lotriet was appointed as managing director of AME (they own the Afrikaans talk station Punt, East Coast and Ofm). His first task is to save Punt.

Print has been equally dramatic. The editorial and sales staff of De Kat walked out because of disputes with Penta Publications` management. This magazine will therefore not see its 15th birthday issue (June 1999).

The advertising sales of Daily Dispatch and EP Herald are now back with Times Media (TML).

Republican Press (RP) – National Magazines` (NatMags) competitor for many years – is no more. With the Caxton changes earlier in the year, the old “RP titles” are now referred to Caxton magazines. Its sales division is called MAGS, which stands for Magazine Advertising Group Sales. Caxton decided to let Personality die. A readership of 348 000 was recorded in Amps 98, which is more or less the same readership count as Woman`s Value and Keur. The latter is still a Caxton title but has not been axed (yet).

Rapport is now a Naspers title after years of dual ownership between Perskor and Nasionale. Citizen is now a Caxton paper.

Two new newspapers were launched: Sunday World (50 percent TML) and Sports Day. According to TML staffers, both these titles are on target. The looming deal between Nail and Caxton fell through, which means that Caxton is still one of the few publishing groups with little or no black empowerment share or ownership.

Two key female interest titles have new editors: Alice Bell, previously with Woman`s Value, moved to the troubled Fair Lady while Ann Donald took over from Bell.

At Naspers, editor changes of three newspapers, Beeld, Burger and Rapport, have just been announced.

And – also old news by now but still a significant change this year – Sandra Gordon left her job as head of Primedia Publishing to become Sisani`s chief executive. She has been replaced by Martin Samuels, previously head of their IT titles.

Listed outdoor media owner Corpcom bought out another company, Suburban. Earlier in the year they acquired 49,9 percent of GMR.

Last but not least we have a new minister of communications after Jay Naidoo left politics. Ivy Matsepe Cassaburri, ex-SABC chairman and premier of the Free State, is now champion of the airwaves. In my twenty odd years in the advertising media industry I can`t recall having twenty big changes in less than six months.

Elana de Swardt is the media director of FCB Lindsay Smithers

Source: Business Report – Elana de Swart