The contradictions of broadcasting reform in post-apartheid South Africa

Barnett, Clive (1998). The contradictions of broadcasting reform in post-apartheid South Africa. Review of African Political Economy, 25(78) pp. 551–570.



This paper examines the process of mass media reform in South Africa during the 1990s, with particular reference to broadcasting. It identifies tensions between the attempt to restructure broadcasting as a public sphere capable of supporting national unification and democratization and i). the existence of socio-economic differentiation and cultural diversity at sub-national scales; and ii). the pressures which impinge upon the broadcasting sector as a result of policies aimed at internationalizing the South African economy. The formulation of broadcasting policy between 1990 and 1995 is reviewed, and the changes that have taken place during the implementation of restructuring and re-regulation from 1996 to 1998 are critically assessed. The paper concludes that the intensified commercialization of broadcasting is at odds with political objectives of transforming the mass media into a public sphere supportive of a diverse and independent civil society.

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