Will China Daily replace Financial Times?
Professor Anton Harber says China has been investing aggressively in African media.
JOHANNESBURG - The Financial Times (FT) will soon cease publication of its weekend edition in South Africa amid speculation that China Daily's Africa Edition will function as its replacement.
Speaking on The Money Show on Tuesday evening, Wits journalism Professor Anton Harber said the FT's decision to close shop in South Africa was a "financial decision driven by new technology."
He said the paper will shift its focus to promoting its digital platform in the country.
"It's so much easier, cheaper, quicker and more effective to make it available online," Harber said.
He then explained that China Daily''s Africa Edition will be moving into the space in the market previously occupied by the FT.
China Daily is China's biggest English-language publication and it launched its Africa Edition in Nairobi six months ago.
The state-owned paper will be printing about 5,000 copies weekly, using the same distribution network as the FT did, according to Harber.
FT Chief Operations Officer Rochelle Josiah will move to the Chinese paper.
Harber described Chinese investment in African media as "quite aggressive", citing the country's involvement in the buy-outs of Independent Newspapers and TopTV as pertinent South African examples.
"China is investing a lot in its media in Africa to increase its presence and to counter what it believes is unfair treatment and stereotyping in our media, which one must credit is often the case."
Harber said he had no doubt that in contrast to the FT's clear interests in the private sector,
China Daily is "coming to serve Chinese national interests".
He conceded the paper might not be particularly popular when it opens, but its state-owned status means it will continue to push.
"You've got huge state resources behind a politically-driven propaganda push, so they will stick with it, they will invest in it."