The governance and regulation of the South African broadcasting industry : a case study of the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
Ngubane, Zwakele B.
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The 1994 democratic elections, which were the first of their kind in South Africa, served as a significant turning point for the country as they marked the end of an oppressive regime and the beginning of a long sought after dispensation; democracy. The change in dispensation was not only limited to the political sphere but naturally filtered through to every aspect of South African life including the broadcasting industry. In fact, leading up to the elections, a number of negotiations had begun centered around the necessary restructuring of the national broadcaster; the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). In regard to this moment in history, Raymond Louw (1993: 01) mentions that, there had "never been a time in South Africa when debate about media, its conduct, structures, ownership and control hard] been so intense". The negotiations were deemed important for a number of reasons. Firstly the media, by virtue of their perceived power and ability to influence the general public, are a highly contested domain. It was therefore essential for a consensus to be reached on how the SABC, for example, would be managed during this time so that no parties would be left at a disadvantage. Secondly, the SABC had earned a reputation as the Nationalist government propaganda machine and therefore had to be freed of this undemocratic burden. The paper is thus a case study of the SABC and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). Issues of ownership, control, regulation and the role of public service broadcasting will be discussed primarily from a political economic perspective.