'It's simple adspend' - Manyi on media bulk-buying
OUTSPOKEN Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) boss Jimmy Manyi says he is not apologetic about centralising the government's bulk-buying of media.
In fact, he says, the government's plan to place the procurement of all advertising under one roof is already taking shape.
He says this is not a "Manyi thing, but a cabinet decision that dates back to June 2011".
Manyi explains that cabinet memorandum No8 of 1998 mandated the GCIS to facilitate placement of all national government campaigns and advertising through a media bulk-buying contract as approved by the national Treasury.
The government's chief communicator was responding to comments made by DA spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, who accused Manyi of wanting to control who gets state advertising money.
In reply Manyi says: "I have no intention of exercising control over where advertising would be placed."
He says criticism of centralised media bulk-buying by the GCIS on behalf of all government departments ignores the benefits to citizens and the media flowing from the initiative.
It is a fundamental fact, he says, that every cent of government adspend is taxpayers' money and GCIS and government departments have to account publicly for the value derived from all forms of communication, including advertising.
Manyi says GCIS conducted a review of the appointed private-sector media bulk-buying agency in 2010, and identified a lack of cost-saving.
"The objective of generating cost-savings government-wide through bulk buying and other cost-saving mechanisms in the purchase of services on behalf of departments including provincial and local government, has resulted in the cabinet decision to reinforce the decision on centralised media buying," he says.
"Media bulk-buying is an accepted practice in the media industry and is the basis on which many media - print, online and broadcast - secure advertising and airtime."
Manyi goes on to say that the cabinet endorsed the government's adoption of this approach last year and mandated GCIS to centralise media buying in order to secure the best value for public funds in an industry where economies of scale and discounts go hand-in-hand.
"In this sector, the procurement of space and airtime is the communications equivalent of procuring beds or medicines in the public health sector," he says.
"GCIS has therefore been tasked with negotiating the best possible terms for government advertisers and to pass on discounts to departments without the involvement of a go-between, as we had in the past.
"The savings we expect to secure in this new process will enable government to communicate more extensively, more frequently and with a broader range of audiences or markets than is currently the case."
This, Manyi says, holds the benefit of more people being informed about the government's programmes and policies.
He adds that it will also give communicators one port of call for advertising decision-making, which will not only bring financial advantages, but also help with the consistency and clarity of government communications which citizens and stakeholders demand.
These transactions, Manyi says, also give media houses a central entry point from which to pitch their channels to government.
"Given the changes in media consumption in South Africa in recent years, we have seen some consumers migrating to online sources.
"Many of these are operated by traditional print producers. It would be sensible and necessary for government to direct adspend to where the eyeballs and the ears are.
"In this process, some channels may attract less advertising than others, but our decisions will be driven by continuous research and the rapidly changing preferences of consumers," Manyi adds.