Africa: Getting the Message
Despite having to reach a multicultural community,
with 11 official languages, the media industry in South Africa remains
one of the most diverse and best-developed in Africa.
the message across still remains one of the biggest challenges to
the South African media, a situation not easily solved, with newspaper-circulation
figures on the decline. Considering that large companies are spending
less on printed press advertising (attributed mainly to the introduction
of television in 1976) brings into question the financial viability
problem, however, runs much deeper than this. Population demographics
and media-usage patterns are having a marked negative impact on
the printed press. With the white population reaching zero growth
and the fact that the emerging black market for historical/ideological
reasons does not read Afrikaans, the Afrikaans newspapers are finding
it difficult to increase and attract new readership.
the English newspapers are in a slightly better position, most have
not succeeded in drawing black readership, primarily, it is believed,
because the majority of the black population has never developed
a culture for reading. Only 36 percent of South Africans make use
of print media as a source of information-many opting for radio
from launching new titles and streamlining existing publications,
the decline in newspaper readership can probably be stemmed by developing
a stable political environment, a stable education system, and an
effective communication system in the country. This may see black
readership increase, that is if competitive media such as TV, radio,
and the Internet do not become the preferred information source
of future generations.
importance of radio as a communication medium in South Africa, on
the other hand, is clearly reflected in the number of radio receivers
per 1,000 inhabitants, the highest ratio in Africa (only 96 in Kenya
and 89 in Zimbabwe). Public broadcasting in South Africa falls mainly
in the domain of the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation),
serving the various cultural and language groups in the country.
The SABC controls 19 radio stations, attracting 20 million listeners
daily. Radio News produces 2,000 news programs a week with a combined
airtime of close to 300 hours. The SABCs television service
consists of three channels broadcasting in the 11 official languages
and attracting a daily audience of about 12 million viewers.
(VOL. 48, No. 12)Overline Overline Overline
OverlineHeadline Headline Headline