Public service broadcasting in South Africa : an analysis of the SABC's fulfilment of a public service mandate.
This dissertation attempts to outline general problems regarding the appropriateness of the concept of public service broadcasting in the late 1990s, a direct result of the liberalisation of the global broadcasting environment. The work is an assessment of the SABC's fulfilment of its public service mandate, the general hypothesis being that the SABC has failed to fulfill its public service mandate due to its inability to remain financially stable and politically independent from the government of the day. The research examined feelings and opinions regarding the concept of public service broadcasting within the SABC in order to discover whether current changes in the broadcasting environment have influenced the SABC's fulfilment of its public service mandate. The assumption is that if the concept of public service broadcasting is shifting, commitment to the principles underlying public broadcasting will shift and therefore public broadcasters are no longer working along traditional lines. The research concludes that the SABC is facing many of the same problems that public broadcasters the world over have faced during the 1990s: the lack of stable funding, the withdrawal of financial support from the government in the face of increasing competition from other broadcasters and the resulting move towards a more business-like, strategic approach are all traits identified amongst public broadcasters the world over. This does not mean to say that the SABC's situation is not unique in some senses, for example it has been far more sUbject to political trajectory than many other public broadcasters due to its past status as a state broadcaster and its operation in a strongly political environment. The SABC also faces large-scale criticism from the South African press, which has proved to be an obstacle for the SABC with regard to its ability to move beyond its past. The fact that challenges facing the SABC are not new suggests that the changing environment is not catering for public service broadcasting and therefore its principle of a distancing from vested interests needs to be rethought.