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Caxton to continue publishing newspapers during the Covid-19 lockdown

Announcement from Caxton Local Media C.E.O., Jaco Koekemoer, “There will be quite a few necessary changes to the business.”

They key amendments that will affect national advertisers are as follows:

  • No insert advertising will be accepted.
  • Certain publications will not publish – list to be provided asap.
  • Bi-weekly publications, reduced to once a week.
  • Some print orders to be reduced (rates to be amended!)

As we are preparing for South Africa’s first 21-day lock-down period, I would like to wish everyone the best for the trying times we are facing, and echo the sentiments of President Cyril Ramaphosa when he concluded his address last night with: “God bless Africa”.

Please find critical information on our operations for the 21-day lock-down below. Caxton Printers is the largest printer of newspapers across the country and a major publisher of newspapers. The newspaper industry remains a fundamental communication tool to support government by disseminating factual information and we are committed to do so in the months to come. We offer our continuous support to the media industry and the citizens of South Africa.

1) Newspaper Printing

We will work closely with mainstream publishers to ensure that printing operations continue as normal.

To remain safe within this Covid-19 environment we will cease printing and inserting commercial leaflets into all publications printed at our facilities. Only the main bodies of newspapers will be printed. This means that publications will rely heavily on advertisers to support them with ROP (run- of-paper) advertising to be viable for printing.

I appeal to you, our advertisers, to support newspapers in order for us to provide mediums where factual information can be shared with the citizens of our country. It still remains one of the most effective and trusted advertising platforms to reach all levels of society.

2) Why are we taking this streamlined approach?

The Disaster Management Act prescribes certain regulations which we need to adhere to. In order to do so, we will carry on with production with the help of essential staff.

With our commercial printing plants closing for the duration of the shutdown, Caxton will also not have trucks traveling across the country. The impact is that 70% of our workforce will be in lock-down, with the remaining 30% consisting of plate setters, qualified printers, stacker operators and a few truck loaders, doing the work.

Publications are sent to the factory via a safe internet network from where the publisher will print the main body of the newspaper. The product will run straight into the finishing stacker, connected to the bundling machines. It will be loaded for distribution to a retailer or to the post box of a home or complex.

To comply with transport regulations in these times, we have organised transport for our staff and most of the staff who are working, have vehicles. The largest portion of our current factory staff, which consists of receiving, dispatching and inserting staff, work in the mailrooms. This section will be shut down.

We have secured enough raw materials to accommodate print for all printing to continue for 30 days and beyond. Newsprint manufacturer, Sappi, is Caxton’s sole supplier and they have assured us that they have stock available at their distribution centres should supply be of concern.

Sappi’s newspaper plant is a key supplier to South Africa’s national electricity grid, one of the main reasons why we have always supported this South African industry.

The newspaper factories that will be printing and supporting newspaper publishers are:

  • Caxton Printers JHB – Industria, Johannesburg, Gauteng
  • Lowveld Media – Nelspruit, Mpumalanga
  • Northern Media Group – Polokwane, Limpopo
  • Northwest Printers – Rustenburg, Northwest Province
  • Darwain Investments – Empangeni, Kwazulu Natal
  • Highway Mail – Pinetown, Kwazulu Natal
  • CTP Newspapers, Cape Town, Western Cape

Our engineering staff, supplier support and technical expertise support:

  • Group Editors, George, Western Cape
  • Rising Sun Printers, Chatsworth, Kwazulu Natal

3) Commercial factories:

Our two commercial factories:

  • CTP Printers Isando
  • CTP Gravure Durban. Both plants will be in lock-down from close of business on Thursday, 26 March 2020.

We are gearing for an increased request for printing at the end of the lock-down period on April 16.

Please contact our Commercial Print Sales manager, Bob Pitts, at bobp@ctpjhb.co.za or our Group Print Sales manager, Penny de Jesus at pennyd@ctpjhb.co.za, to book your orders.

4) Caxton Local Media newspapers and online platforms

Caxton publishes more than three million newspapers across the country every week, with the bulk of its distribution being door-to-door.

During the lock-down period, the majority of our readers will be at home and through our publications we will be able to communicate hyper-local content to the majority of households in our footprint. Caxton Local Media newsrooms have over 300 editorial staff members working under the guidance of our National Group Editor, Irma Green.

A task team was set up to focus on Covid-19 content and the impact of the virus on local communities. We publish over 900 000 newspapers in our emerging market areas (LSM 4 to 7). In many of these areas, Caxton publications are often the only way hyper-local information is communicated to our readers there. It enforces the importance of continuous publishing to assist government and business to share information on how to stay safe during the lock-down period.

The fundamental role of sharing information and educating communities has never before been so important.

We abide by the strict rules of the South African Press code and have also adopted our own internal protocol when reporting on Covid-19 matters. Since the first Coronavirus stories have been shared on our digital platforms, we have seen a surge of traffic and users spending much more time on site to gain insight into the impact of the virus.

ROP advertising within this new framework, provides many opportunities for businesses. There will be no delay in distributing advertising across the country and sales teams can speed up delivery time when booking space in newspapers.

Material deadline is also much quicker. We do however urge our clients to stick to deadlines to assist us in the quest to deliver our products efficiently from the press to the reader.

Local clients can still contact their local sales representatives, while national clients should work through Spark Media.

All distribution staff have been briefed with regards to safety procedures.

Finally, just a word of thanks for many years of loyal support. We support the President and government in their decision to lock-down and will continue to be a trusted source of information for our communities.

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