New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Possible media merger raises monopoly worries

Possible media merger raises monopoly worries

2023-09-08  Aletta Shikololo

Possible media merger raises monopoly worries

The fear of losing divergent views and freedom of expression have surfaced, following the conglomeration of Future Media and TribeFire Studios, which will bring together six of Namibia’s media brands under one roof.

In December last year, the two private media houses revealed their marriage plans.

That process is underway, pending contract finalisation and regulatory approval.

One Africa and 99FM are set to join Radio Wave, Fresh FM, NOVA 1035 and Omulunga Radio. 



In an interview with New Era, Swapo lawmaker Ephraim Nekongo addressed the delicate balance between free expression, access to information, and the danger of various media houses operating under one umbrella.

There is also concern that the new company will drown out black voices and promote the interests of white people, potentially controlling information dissemination.

Nekongo then reflected on Namibia’s commitment to freedom of expression. “As a country, we played a role in making sure that everybody can express themselves, and we have also made a mark as one of the countries with press freedom.”

Namibia is the African country with the freest media, according to the World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

“The media is one of the most powerful weapons that many countries fear. Whoever controls the media controls the information, so that becomes worrisome,” the Swapo Party Youth League secretary ventilated. 

He emphasised the influence of the media, and its potency as a tool that can wield immense power on a global scale.

“But we can’t restrict them because it is their right. So, it’s up to us as a black community to come together and work together. The problem is that we don’t want to work together,” Nekongo stressed. 

Drawing attention to the media landscape, he further raised concerns about the fairness of resources distribution among media outlets, particularly state-run media houses. 

He questioned, “For example, the state media: Are they given enough to compete in that space? Are the state media houses given fair leverage in terms of resources? They need to be resourced so that at the end of the day, they can compete in this space.”

In light of the potential merger, Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani said it holds constitutional validity. 

Like Nekongo, his concerns are on the issue of media control in Namibia. 

The opposition leader said the country already experiences a high level of state-controlled media.

He said similar mergers could lead to the emergence of a concentrated media landscape, controlled by a powerful few. 

“If it is exacerbated with other three mergers, there would be three to four forces of media that could be detrimental to access to information, or free and fair information. But what is worrisome is instead of having 10 or two media outlets, we will only have two, and the editorial policies will be the same. To that effect, it becomes detrimental to information dissemination broadly,” Venaani said.

The politician noted that while mergers are a common phenomenon in various business sectors, the critical factor is its potential impact on information distribution, and the broader accessibility to news.

He hopes that the pursuit of economic benefits through branding and consolidation will not inadvertently hinder the public’s right to information.



Diametrically opposed to the politicians was media expert Zoé Titus, who said viewing the issue solely through the lens of race might be short-sighted, as each media company has its distinct historical trajectory and business focus.

The Namibian Media Trust director, however, agreed that the diversity of news sources is diminished following such a merger.

She noted that while Future Media appears to have adeptly managed its news production and adhered to the Namibian code of conduct, concerns about diversity inevitably arise when media houses combine forces. 

“Maybe that’s the only concern the public might have,” Titus said.

Otherwise, she has no issue with the merger, saying One Africa Television has faced financial difficulties for an extended period. 

“This financial strain raises a valid question about the sustainability of media outlets and their ability to uphold quality journalism,” she continued.



Regarding market views, TribeFire Studios’ group CEO Stephan Hugo said the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) conducted a broadcast market saturation study when the merger was mooted.  

In a joint letter, the two media houses said the primary goal “is to better serve our clients and audiences with a larger range of products and services. The broader network will have greater reach across the country for a synergised and optimised news team.” 

They said the consolidation is a necessary and inevitable step in a market that is increasingly being dominated by international digital media companies. 

“This is a proactive initiative, designed to ensure that Namibian media remains diverse and locally relevant. We are confident that the merger, once completed, will provide a more robust platform to benefit the people of Namibia, ensuring access to quality local media content and services,” the letter reads.


Media freedom

Meanwhile, lawmaker Modestus Amutse said the merger could limit competition in the media fraternity.

He is a member of the parliamentary standing committee on ICT. 

“Media houses should be able to express themselves freely and communicate the message. But if there are conditions restricting this freedom, then it will infringe on media freedom,” a worried Amutse said. 

“When you have many media players, it increases competition, meaning that the quality of the report and content will be high because it is compiled in a competitive world, as opposed to restricting certain conditions to a limited number of operators and use that privilege to direct the content to what they want to be heard or seen.”

He, therefore, believes a diverse media fraternity will likewise increase and promote a desire for Namibian youth to venture into media practising, create employment opportunities, and strengthen journalism as an art.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Amutse said they want to see the country promoting free exercise in media and journalism in general. -

2023-09-08  Aletta Shikololo

Share on social media