Merger ‘creates sustainable media platform’

OFFICIAL … Stefan Hugo and Gary Stroebel signing the merger agreement.

Future Media chief executive Gary Stroebel says the merger between TribeFire Studios and his company creates a more robust and sustainable media platform.

He says media companies worlwide are feeling the impact of the dominance of both Google and Meta in terms of advertising and information dissemination.

Future Media Namibia and TribeFire Studios on Monday announced that the merger between the two media companies has been successfully completed.

Future Media is the home of Radio Wave, Fresh FM, Nova 1035 and Omulunga Radio.

TribeFire Studios previously owned One Africa Television and 99FM.

These media houses have now become subsidiaries of Namibia Future Media Holdings.

“The Namibian media market is extremely competitive and even possibly overtraded in some sectors. This creates the distinct possibility that some participants become commercially unsustainable.

“A merger between TribeFire Studios and Future Media creates a more robust and sustainable media platform,” Stroebel says.

“This merger represents a strategic move to strengthen our position in the dynamic media industry. By combining our resources and expertise, we are better equipped to deliver enhanced value to our clients and audiences.

“The blending of two excellent management teams also assists us to better navigate the evolving digital media landscape,” he says.

Future Media and TribeFire Studios in a joint media statement in 2022 said the two media companies agreed to merge.

Former chief executive of TribeFire Studios Stefan Hugo says the consolidation is a proactive initiative, designed to ensure that Namibian media remains diverse and locally relevant.

He now joins Future Media Namibia as an executive director.

“We are committed to maintaining our dedication to trustable local media content and services,” Stroebel says.

“The combined online and on-air audiences our clients will be able to access as a one-stop service provides a viable alternative to advertising on international platforms while supporting the local economy and keeping advertising spend in the country,” he says.

The completion of the merger follows the approval of the Namibian Competition Commission and Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) in July 2023.

Cran chief executive Emilia Nghikembua says TribeFire Studios applied for a transfer of licence and transfer of control of licence for One Africa Television and 99FM at the beginning of 2023.

The transaction was reviewed by the authority and approved on 11 July 2023, she says.

“The radio stations and television broadcaster will continue operating as separate entities. Low-profit margins and limited advertising revenue pose a risk for broadcasters.

“The transfer will unlock capital to allow innovation, as well as attract more advertising revenue. It will therefore be to the benefit of consumers and broadcasters alike,” Nghikembua says.

Last year when the two companies announced their plans to merge, Swapo lawmaker Ephraim Nekongo in an interview with New Era expressed concern that the new company would drown out ‘black voices’, potentially controlling information dissemination.

“The media is one of the most powerful weapons many countries fear. Whoever controls the media controls information, so that becomes worrying.

“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 said.

Stroebel says for more than two decades, their various brands have served a diverse range of audiences, with listeners and viewers in almost every sector of the Namibian population.

“In fact both TribeFire Studios and Future Media have invested heavily in expanding the voices of various parts of our racial spectrum.

“Studios have been opened at Ongwediva for a number of years now, bringing both local news and local personalities into the national consciousness,” Stroebel says.

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