Government has confirmed that it has issued a directive instructing government entities and parastatals to stop advertising with some private media houses.
Addressing heads of parastatals meeting, Permenat Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi on Friday confirmed the governments’ decision to cut advertising in some of the private media houses.
But when contacted on Friday to reconcile the information that he provided to the Sunday Standard last year denying the existence of an advertising ban with the latest revelation, Morupisi who is ‘usually friendly’ to the media declined to discuss the matter insisting he was in a meeting.
Sunday Standard has turned up information that the government advertising ban was initially meant to be kept a secret. It is understood that when Sunday Standard broke the story three months ago, breach became the subject of intense discussion within the government enclave. Senior officials who were not aware that the advertising ban was supposed to be a closely guarded secret and reportedly communicated the decision to parastatals through a written memo will not have their contracts renewed this year.
“The government is aware that what it is doing is illegal because there is a High Court decision on the same matter which outlawed advertising ban on private media. In fact the whole matter amounts to contempt of court,” one of the sources said.
In what sources insist is a red-herring, Morupisi told parastatals this week that the decision by government to stop its departments and parastatals from advertising in certain private media houses was part of its cost cutting measures.
“There has been concern on our cost containment. There are ways government is trying to contain costs. In central government it was the issue of overtime because it was taking a lot of money and the way we do our advertisement,” he said.
Morupisi charged that types of advertisement such as centre spreads in newspapers were also to blame for the escalating costs saying some of them were unnecessary.
“There is a picture album called centre spread showing who attended what, who was greeting who and cost associated with that were out of this world,” he said.
According to Morupisi, it was agreed that that there was need to minimise costs by “reducing adverts and the way we do adverts so that going forward we know why it was decided in that manner.”
“For example if you take one of the parastatals which I wouldn’t name, they are in the reds but on monthly basis they were spending P200 000 on advertising and we are talking about a parastatal that has nothing and is creeping towards,” he said.
Morupisi emphasised the result is that government decided to cut on the number of adverts and the way adverts are done.
While he answered questions by some officials at the Friday meeting, Morupisi decided not to answer the question on advertisement rationing. One of the attendants wanted to establish the criteria to be used in implementing the advertisement rationing.
Last year when denying as untrue reports that the government had issued a directive instructing some government entities and parastatals to stop advertising with some private newspapers and radio stations, Morupisi had said “Those are only malicious reports aimed at tarnishing the government because the allegations are baseless.
An internal memo from one of the parastatals stated that government entities had been instructed by government to stop advertising on unapproved media platforms with effect from 1st December 2014. Media houses listed as approved platforms for government advertising are Daily News, The Voice, The Ngami Times, BTV, RB1, RB 2, Duma FM, Yarona FM and Government portal.