The inherent nature of the Internet affects financial reporting in the sense that information on a website is available to anyone, anywhere and at any time. Financial reporting on the Internet reduces the cost of financial reporting, makes instantaneous reporting a reality, adds breadth and depth to business reporting, allows analytical tools to be used on underlying business data and makes it easier to disseminate reports to any place in the world where there is a computer. A cursory exploration of financial reporting on the websites of South African companies reveals great variations in terms of the amount of content (e.g. summary financial statements vs detailed financial statements), the style of presentation (e.g. similar to paper‐based reports vs inclusion of multi‐media) and the manner in which companies incorporate navigation aids (e.g. hyperlinks, search boxes and others). The advantages of the Internet as a new mode of information dissemination are clear, but Internet financial reporting creates a number of challenges for companies and their auditors as well as for regulatory and standard‐setting organisations. This paper assesses Internet reporting in South Africa. It explores the manner in which financial and certain non‐financial information is presented on companies’ websites and determine whether reporting practices on the websites of South African companies differ fromthose of their international counterparts. The study revealed that although Internet usage in South Africa has expanded as a medium for presentation of financial information via companies’ websites, top South African companies use their websites as a bulletin board with limited real‐time financial information and note disclaimers.
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