Emerging players in the lucrative outdoor advertising industry have called for the “levelling of the playing fields” in order for them to participate meaningfully and grow.
The call was made at the Outdoor Advertising Indaba in Fourways organised by the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC), a city of Johannesburg entity, this week.
The meeting heard that racism and the lack of transformation were holding back black participants, with 95% of the business still controlled by less than 5% of the industry players.
“We’re not afraid to compete. Give us an equal opportunity to compete and grow. We mean business and are in it for the long haul,” Joyleen Mahanetsa of Outcast Media said.
The industry generates about R32bn in revenue a year, according to Peter Lindstrom, chairperson of the Outdoor Home Media of South Africa.
JPC MD Helen Botes says the city has more than 30000 forms of street furniture and street poles, 732 billboards, 3800 signs and 130 cellular masts and antennae. However, of the 732 billboards, 156 are illegal and 557 are not compliant with by-laws, costing the city millions of rands in lost revenue.
Botes said legal action against by-law transgressions was usually time-consuming and costly.
She said it was therefore important to regulate the industry.
“The industry has progressed significantly over the past two decades, which was to be expected with the economic growth of the city. However, recognised SMMEs have not increased number or diversity. At least 95% of billboards are owned or controlled by less than 5% of media players,” Botes said.
Lindstrom evoked a strong reaction when he told the gathering that clients preferred to work with big companies. His company represents 220 companies and is one of the five dominant players in the industry.
Mzwanele Manyi said it was unacceptable that a few players still dominated the industry.
“Why are you allowing yourselves to be racist by not using black companies?” he asked.
“By continuing this trend, dominant companies are stealing from the city and impacting on service delivery.”
Lindstrom said the industry was well regulated but by-laws were poorly enforced. He said quicker turnaround times on applications and tighter by-law enforcement would go a long way in resolving the issues.
Member of the mayoral committee for economic development Ruby Mathang conceded that the city needed to streamline the application process.
He announced an amnesty for those who did not comply with by-laws but warned those resisting change including those using fronting to short-circuit transformation that their contracts would be cancelled.
“This meeting of industry players was long overdue.
“The outdoor advertising industry is extremely important to the city. We’re sincere in wanting to work with you and we hope to find common ground. But if you don’t play ball, your contracts will be cancelled. The inclusion of SMMEs is a priority for the city to allow those on the margins to participate in the economy,” Mathang said.