OVER the next six years Independent Media will invest R1.2 billion towards expanding its print footprint and creating new digital platforms – a move intended to put the company squarely ahead of its competitors.
Independent Media’s executive chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé, announced yesterday that R400 million of the funding for the print and digital expansion would come from parent company Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, while R800m would be from two international banks.
Independent Media is the publisher of the Cape Times, IOL and a number of other daily and weekend titles.
The investment will go towards the expansion and redesign of titles, the establishment of a new vernacular title, a pan-African title and the investment in audio and video streaming platforms.
Survé said the company was also prioritising increasing bandwidth for Independent’s titles.
“We are moving Independent from being print-savvy to being tech-savvy,” he said.
Survé said Independent had begun its move with the launch of its mobi-site for smartphones, IOLMobile.
The my.independent app would run on Android and iOS devices.
“When we acquired Independent last year the vision was to build the most tech-savvy media company in Africa.
“This investment is tangible proof of our commitment to becoming Africa’s biggest media company in five years.”
Survé said Independent Media had been on the back foot in technology and digital because the previous owners had not invested in these.
The new shareholders were committed to moving the company in a new direction.
“The investment will be multipronged, embracing the acquisition of existing businesses and the organic growth of Independent’s technology-driven business units.
“Most important, the next five years will see substantial investment of financial and other resources in equipping Independent Media and all |of its titles for the digital future.”
Survé said securing funding was the easy part of the transition, but the challenge would be how employees would be able to adapt to the new technological advances.
A team led by Independent’s chief digital officer, Anthony Robinson, were recruiting industry experts who would assist with the digital migration of newspaper print titles, Survé said.
The announcement comes as Sekunjalo is awaiting news about its R50m bid for the South African Press Association (Sapa).
Survé said the intention was to use Sapa as a base for an Africa-wide news agency.