Naspers Media Group: Ethnic Past and Global Present. Media Firms, Class and Ethnic Identities during the Age of Convergence and Expansion: The Case of Naspers in the First Decade of the 21st Century

Sethunya Tshepho Mosime


  This work analyses the reasons why the South African media giant Naspers Limited scaled down its businesses in the early 2000s at a time when the political economy of communication and media economics pointed towards expansions and mergers as the business strategy of the future. Its acquisition of a controlling shareholding of OpenTV in March 1999, and the subsequent disposing of the same interests in May 2002, can be perceived as signalling the need to re-visit the belief that media firms in the future can only get bigger. The case of Naspers illustrated how in the global media economy, class and ethnicity become more complex as market interests grow from local to global. Local bourgeois class and ethnic interests that took a long time to invent become increasingly threatened in the age of global markets. From its inception, initially called Nasionale Pers, Naspers was characterised by "a certain symbiosis of material and ethnic interests" (Giliomee, 2003, p. 373). It was founded to invent Afrikaner group identity. It has also since then grown to become a powerful player in the global media economy by undertaking expansion and mergers. This presents a paradox with the very opportunity to grow bigger and more global simultaneously being a threat to Naspers‘s cultural ‘rootedness‘ and past.

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