Tiso Blackstar Group

Tiso Blackstar Group is a media company in South Africa, formerly known as Johnnic Communications, Avusa and Times Media Group. Avusa means "to rouse feelings, to revive and evoke action". The name was changed in 2007 in order to avoid confusion between Johnnic Communications and Johnnic Holdings.[1] The name was changed again (to Tiso Blackstar) in 2017.[2]

Tiso Blackstar Group
Traded asJSE: TMG
PredecessorJohncom, Avusa
Key people
Prakash Desai (CEO)
ProductsPublishing, entertainment, retail
DivisionsPicasso Headline, Hirt & Carter, Nu Metro Cinemas (sold), Exclusive Books

In 2012, Avusa was acquired by a unit of Mvelaphanda Group and renamed Times Media Group, which was then relisted on the JSE.[3] In 2013, Times Media Group acquired the remaining 50% of BDFM from Pearson.[4]

Avusa publications and services






Avusa created a network of its own websites, named Times Media Live, in 2010. In 2011 this network began to expand from three sites to 21 in 2014, made up mostly of disparate websites within the Group (Times Live,[7] Sowetan Live,[8] BDLIVE, Financial Mail, HeraldLive and more) including the African representation of The Daily Telegraph. In doing so, Times Media Live became the second largest publisher network and thereafter Times Live the second largest website in South Africa. Times Media Live was the first large media-owned publisher to reach profitability in the 2013 financial year. In 2014 The Rand Daily Mail was resuscitated as an online-only brand.

Picasso Headline currently publishes:

  • khuluma - The monthly in-flight magazine published on behalf of kulula.com
  • African Leader - Quarterly magazine published on behalf of the Black Management Forum (BMF)
  • SA Schools and Tertiary Collection - An annual directory of SA schools and tertiary institutions
  • Rock, Surf and Deep RSD - A monthly on-shelf salt water fishing magazine, including African Angling Destinations Guides
  • Voice of Local Government - Quarterly magazine published on behalf of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
  • Digest of SA Architecture - Annual magazine showcasing projects of the year, published on behalf of the SA Institute of Architects (SAIA), primarily for its members
  • Architecture SA - Alternate monthly magazine published on behalf of the SA Institute of Architects (SAIA), primarily for its members
  • New Agenda - A quarterly magazine published on behalf of the Institute for African Alternatives. This publication is the South African Journal of Social and Economic Policy.
  • SA Banker - Quarterly magazine published on behalf of the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) and the Institute of Bankers (IOB)



Tiso Blackstar Events is the events division of Tiso Blackstar Group which focuses on creating and managing events that leverage the reach of its titles to create brand awareness and recognition for brands and sponsors


Accusations of fake news

On 27 November 2016, The Sunday Times published a story claiming that South African radio and television personality, and former Idols SA judge, Gareth Cliff had "admitted to giving fellow Idols SA judge Marah Louw the spiked drink that led to her notorious slurring and swearing on live TV", with further suggestions made that that the incident had resulted in Louw's contract not being renewed.[9] As a result of the article, Gareth Cliff was the victim of many insults on social media, before releasing a statement on Facebook confronting the false allegations printed in the Sunday Times. Susan Smuts, Managing Editor of the Times, responded to Cliff's lawyer, admitting that there had been "misinterpretations". Cliff, via his lawyer, demanded an unreserved apology from the Times.[10]

See also


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