South African’s National Liberation Movement

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National Conference​

Discussion Documents

Media in a democratic South Africa

30 August 2002

Approaches to communication
  1. This discussion paper seeks to stimulate a constructive debate that should inform the ANC`s perspective and strategy with regards to mass communication in a democratic South Africa. The document highlights and examines the following:
    • The context of mass communication
    • The political economy of mass media in South African
    • The role media should play in a democracy
    • The relationship between media and organs of society
    • Mass media and diversity
    • Legal and regulatory frameworks and;
    • Way forward to deal with the challenges upon and ahead of us as we reaffirm the struggle to transform the media industry.
  2. This debate should sensitize all of us about the critical issues we must consider as we communicate on a daily basis. It should enable the movement to produce media strategies that are responsive to some of the above-mentioned factors.

  3. Because the ANC is fundamentally about changing the lives of people, our approach to mass communication will be an extension of social or human communication. Therefore, although mass communication plays a vital and visible role, there are other areas of communication that bear a profound influence in shaping the movement and developments in society. Some of the types of human communication that has influence include:

  4. Intra-personal communication: This aspect of communication relates to individual thought processes. To us, this should be an area of interest because it impacts on the broader objectives of the ANC of nation-building. Individual thoughts, attitudes and values are of critical importance for the ANC`s success in its revolutionary mission. This aspect of communication is important in our quest to intensify the culture of democracy and raising understanding and consciousness of the various issues and challenges confronting the movement.

  5. Interpersonal communication: Communication at the interpersonal level is about effective sharing and transmission of ideas and information between and amongst people. Can we say with confidence that this process of dialogue is truly taking place within the movement? Or we are just speaking across each other? As a movement, we need to always encourage a culture of dialogue as it brings better understanding amongst comrades. As a movement there will arise from time to time differences on how as comrades we view issues and possible solutions to them. Needless to say, effective interpersonal communication enables us to explore the challenges and harmonize our approach to them.

  6. Furthermore, in our political work, we need to engage with our members and broader society, and our ability to master interpersonal communication will bring a closer understanding of the movement`s values, cultures and policies.

  7. Group communication: The ANC has a strong culture of group communication, it is an effective way of bringing cohesion and qualitative growth to any organization.

  8. Our organization with a background of underground operation has survived and grown because of group communication. During those days, small structures generally referred to as cells were established as means of survival to keep our organization strong.

  9. It is critical to keep in mind the importance of this type of communication within our ranks. Therefore, the ANC should always endeavor to keep group communication alive and vibrant to enhance very strong political education programmes. This aspect of communications establishes cohesion between the various structures and organs of our movement.

  10. Public communication: This type of communication is the foundation of the ANC`s communication processes with its traditional target constituency -the motive forces. To try and reach out to as many people as possible without any modern day mass communication technology, the ANC throughout its history relied on key public speakers to spread its vision. Speakers like Pixley ka Isaka Seme would continuously convey ANC messages by word of mouth predominantly addressing large gatherings in townships and rural areas.

  11. This manner of communication has strong advantages such as: feedback is quick between sender and receiver and it creates an opportunity for direct physical conduct with the relevant constituency

  12. Recent effectiveness of this form of communication has been demonstrated through the Imbizo programme in which the President, Cde Thabo Mbeki has met and discussed with hundreds of thousands of people in various locations and places and the people`s forums we have during election campaigns.

  13. Based on our long experience in communication as a movement, we should always put public communication at the center of our outreach programme.

  14. Organisational communication: This form of communication takes place in the setting of an organization, it may be affected in a structured or unstructured way when people communicate horizontally or vertically within the organization. The ANC always emphasized the multi – minded approach in which all organization members are valued for their ability to contribute to the effective functioning of the organization.

  15. Therefore, the flow of accurate information from within (from members) and also from outside, is a basis upon which leadership and structures are made aware of problems that require some form of change. This means that ANC leadership and structures at all levels increasingly need to be aware of the various forces of change that have potential to influence the functioning of the organisation.

  16. ANC is currently faced with many challenges, many of which are mandated to it through the tasks of our national democratic revolution and others flow as a result of the strategic position that South Africa occupies within the continent. All of the above mean that the organization`s boundaries must be sensitive to the external changes, to enable it to cope effectively with these changes.

  17. It is also this climate of challenges and changes that offer an opportunity to the movement to register successes in organizational goals, long -term survival and growth. The issue of organizational communication emphasizes that the responsibility of communication cuts across all members of the organization, it is therefore not only the responsibility of our communications unit.

  18. This also calls for the full understanding of all organizational policies, programmes, processes and values by all members of the organization in order to create an environment of effective organizational functioning. Finally, this method of communication is the most critical component in creating organizational cohesion.

    Context of Mass communication [Note: Media in this discussion will be used as a term to include all forms of mass media including print and electronic media, radio, television, advertising and the Internet.]

  19. The strategic nature and effectiveness of mass communication was predicted long time ago by a communications scientist, Marshall Mclulan (1964) when he said that by the 20th century, the mass media will have turned the world into a “global village”. This would be a world in which we will all have become part of what is happening elsewhere so much so, that we will not be able “to go home anymore”. The reason for this is the fact that information about events occurring all over the world can become common knowledge within a very short time and enter our homes, as well as our places of work and play.

  20. Mass communication is a very important and distinctive phenomenon of the current South African history. It has been a critical component of the ANC functional machinery since inception. In making its messages available to thousands of people throughout South Africa and abroad, this movement had relied on mass communication both in spoken and printed words. As a result of this deep appreciation of the importance of mass communication, the ANC was able to grow from strength to strength. The movement continued to satisfy people`s desire to be liberated, to learn about things unknown and new to them through mass communication.

  21. Mass communication, unlike the previous forms of communication that we noted, reaches out to relatively large, heterogeneous and anonymous audiences and constituencies. Also unlike most other forms of communication, mass communication relies on the use of highly technical or electronic devices (television, radio, newspapers, books, film or a combination of these) in order to transmit the messages to a relatively large number of people. As a result of the effect of mass communication to the people`s consciousness, it will form the main focus of our discussion.

  22. Our profound interest in understanding mass communication in general and mass media in particular arise from our acceptance of our role as the leader of the national democratic forces for transformation. It is therefore expected that, we should be the main communicators of the South African vision, which in turn will influence attitudes and values of the broader society.

  23. Our responsibility is so huge that that we cannot afford to be lethargic or indifferent on whether encoded messages from the movement and government are accurately decoded by the mass media or not. It will be the accurate transmission and high quality of messages that will guarantee establishment of some common understanding within the broader society.

  24. Further, we should also understand that mass communication “always operates in a social context – it influences society and society influences the media” ( Beer 1998:6) Therefore, mass communication can be a very effective way of influencing attitudes and opinions. The relations of the movement and mass media are informed by the understanding of the critical importance of the role of mass media during the process of social change.

  25. Some of the common functions of media are the following:
    • Information: Providing information about events and conditions in society and the world.
    • Correlation: Explaining, interpreting and commenting on the meaning of events and information;
    • Consensus building;
    • Education and socializing
    • Continuity: Expressing the dominant culture and recognizing sub – cultures and new cultural developments. Forging and maintaining commonality of values
    • Entertainment: Providing amusement, diversion and the means of relaxation;
    • Reducing social tensions
    • Mobilisation: Campaigning for societal objectives in the sphere of politics, war, economic development, work and sometimes religion.
  26. The above is a list of functions of what is expected under normal circumstances from mass media by way of daily programmes and editorials of both electronic and print media.

  27. There are also other considerations that influence the functioning of the press and impact on its mediation role between the public perception and the real world. To illustrate how distortion may happen as the media connects us with the reality, we may then perceive the role played by the media in the following ways:
    • A mirror of events in society and the world, implying a faithful reflection, although others decide the angle and direction of the mirror and we are less free to see what we want.
    • A filter or gatekeeper, acting to select parts of experience for special attention and closing off other views and voices – whether deliberately or not.
    • A signpost, guide or interpreter pointing the way and making sense of what is otherwise puzzling. This interpreter may not necessarily be the accurate interpretation of the primary message from the sender, instead may be representing the interest of some afore-mentioned social factors (economic structure etc)
    • A screen or barrier indicating the possibility that the media might cut us of from reality, by providing a false view of the world, through either propaganda or escapism.
  28. The above metaphors illustrate how editors, journalists, advertising houses etc. process information so as to influence and affect the attitudes, values and lifestyles of people born in a specific era. This to some extent attempts to explain how slanting in news reports and editing of television documentaries can be effected to satisfy the interest of certain sections of society.

  29. The democratic movement as led by the ANC should proactively engage with the media issues so as to ensure a proper reflection and representation of the complex democratic transformation process in order to mobilize the masses of our people to act in unity as shapers of their own destiny.

The Political economy of the South African media
  1. “The underlying logic of cost operates systematically, consolidating the position of groups already established in the main mass media markets and excluding those groups who lack the capital base for successful entry. Thus the voices that survive will largely belong to those least likely to criticize the prevailing distribution of wealth and power. Conversely, those most likely to challenge these arrangements are unable to publicize their dissent or opposition because they cannot command resources needed for effective communication to a broad audience” (Murdock & Golding: 1977: 37).

  2. The phenomenon of an expanding media without diversity can best be explained by a look at the political economy of the media. Public, private and community tiers characterize the South African media system. The SABC as a public broadcaster owns the majority of radio stations (both public mandate stations and commercial stations) and TV stations (three free-air-channels and two subscription channels).

  3. There are fifteen (15) privately owned radio services targeting the metropolitan areas. Furthermore, there are two private entities that provide one free-to-air service and subscription television.

  4. All these services rely mainly on advertising revenue for their existence and survival. Even the SABC that draws on license fees still has advertising revenue accounting for seventy five percent (75%) of it`s funding.

  5. The print press is all privately owned and relying entirely on advertising revenue for its operations, existence and survival. These newspapers are read by no more than a fifth of the population.

  6. The community sector that has seen the roll-out of a hundred stations since 1994. It relies on grants, some form of government support and advertising revenue for its survival. The community stations that thrive are those that are able to draw considerable advertising revenues.

  7. The media sells audiences to advertisers in this commercial transaction. South Africans are categorized into different groups based on living styles, class positions, employment status, education, culture and other indicators. These are then translated to the economic power they command as target groups measured by the disposable income they have.

  8. Advertisers who buy these segmented portions of the South African population as audiences are mainly interested in their disposable income. Advertisers place their adverts in the selected media to catch this disposable income. Needless to say, its not all segments of the South African population that is of interest to the advertisers due to their socio-economic position. Media that addresses itself to these South African stand little chance or no chance at all to survive. The opening up of the broadcasting sector serves as a good example. Yfm and Khaya fm despite enjoying millions of listeners have struggled to remain afloat. This has been in sharp contrast to stations like Highveld and Jacaranda, also in Gauteng, but enjoying far less patronage.

  9. This reliance on advertising revenue therefore places direct limitations on the ability of media to expand and reach the majority of South Africans. Commercial considerations are at the apex of consideration of what market to target and what content to deal with and what perspectives reflected.

  10. For the considerable future, advertisers will not be interested in some segments of the South African population. Even public entities like the SABC will be limited in terms of providing media or programmes within its channels that primarily address themselves to the segments of the South African population that are not of interest to the advertisers.

  11. The political economy of the media places the interest of the advertisers, and well-off South Africans above the interests of other citizens. Patronage by the advertisers skews the media landscape and consequently distorts the democratic process and debate.

  12. There needs to be a re-evaluation of our approach to the political economy of the media with the view to ensure balance in the reflection of the needs and interests of the South Africans citizens and the projection of their voices on all major national developments. Only through the strengthening of the public and community spheres can this balance be restored. But these should exist to address ascertainable needs that are not covered by and are of no interest to the commercial media.

  13. There is need to develop a public funded model in order for the public and community media to serve as vehicles to articulate the needs of the poor, rural people, women, labour and other marginalized constituencies.

  14. This model should accept the limitations of the advertising and commercially driven media. Reliance on advertising will in any event create poor cousins of the commercial media that are straight jacketed to deal with citizens and issues that advertisers are interested in only.

  15. Current discussion on media is premised on the notion that any proposal must contain explicit sources of funding other than public funds. In addition, no proposal is exempt from requirements that it will be self-funding and draw on the private sector. It is our argument that this framework is politically loaded and contains seeds that will derail the creation of a diverse and inclusive media that will draw all South Africans into the political debate.

  16. Therefore, the emergence of a stably funded inclusive public and community media should have a profound effect on the media culture. It must allow for the sectors of society normally excluded tobe visible and heard. It must address issues of agenda setting at apolitical domain giving space to what the media so far has considered off-limits.

  17. To a large extent, the way media function is largely determined by economic power structure and the stratification of a society. It is assumed that whoever owns or controls the media can choose or set limits to what they do and what messages to produce. This provoke serious questions about the ownership and general media economic interests that in turn influence information produced by South African media.

  18. Globally, there are concerns that economic concentration of certain media industries in the hands of a few conglomerates like CNN etc. might widen the knowledge gap, between the information rich and information – poor countries. The deep concern of the movement is the First World – Third World media infrastructure composition in our country.

  19. While the country boasts some world – class technical media qualities in the printing and broadcasting industries, it has relatively low level of print media penetration in impoverished rural areas. As a result of this situation, information and knowledge gap between urban and rural areas is widening.

  20. This uneven information flow leads to a situation where those who reside in rural areas become victims or easy prey of various forms of information manipulation. As a movement, we need extra-ordinary strategy to improve methods and mechanisms of enhancing vibrant communication system in the rural areas.
    The legal and regulatory framework
  21. Some of the factors that shape mass media are legislative, regulatory and technological in nature in nature. The Constitution as it stands entrenches the right to freedom of expression, the right to equality and human dignity as provided in the founding provisions contained in chapter 1 of the Constitution. The Constitution also mandates that open democracy and the equality Act be promulgated.

  22. To give effect to the meaning of the Constitution and ensure the transformation of the media, pieces of legislations were enacted which provided for a media that reflect the democratic South Africa. One of such legislations was the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act (IBA), which created a framework for an independent and apolitical regulation of media related issues without any form of government or private sector interference. The IBA Act was in accordance with the provision of the Constitution, which required the regulation of the media services independently and in the public interests.

  23. This bold step was aimed at freeing the mass communication from the past prejudices and it was acknowledged that such attempts would be received with resistance by those forces opposed to change, but nonetheless an important foundation to build on for the purposes of realizing the ultimate goal of an unbiased mass media in South Africa.

  24. Another argument advanced was for the limitation of cross media control to curtail the dominance of particular forces in the media because of economic abilities. A framework was created for the control of the mass media by the people from those communities who would not have been able to have such access due to our unfortunate past.

  25. A number of other legislations have been put in place in recognizing the need to have an unbiased media and the future thereof. The Broadcasting Act of 1999 is one of such legislation that created a framework for the transformation of mass media. The Broadcasting Act provides as one of its objectives a broadcasting system in the country, which takes into account diversity in the form of languages, culture, social and political in the country. It therefore requires the promotion of unity in diversity by acknowledging the past and building on it.

  26. In recognition of the fact that the current mass media system does not take into account poor people and people based in the rural areas, the Media Development and Diversity Act has since been passed to ensure roll out of media services to those communities that are not covered by the current system.

  27. The changes that have occurred in the media environment since 1994 have not been as far reaching as to transform the political realities of media in South Africa. Despite these changes, there still is no significant media, which represents and articulates the aspirations, viewpoints and interests of the biggest constituency in the country. The functioning of the media is still rooted in its history in the political divide that has characterized South Africa since the advent of apartheid.

  28. These are merely attempts to liberate the media from the current bondage and it must be noted that these attempts have met resistance from forces who want to resist change and a better life for all. Despite this, a foundation for the transformation of mass media has been laid and it is a responsibility of every progressive South African to protect the gains achieved.

  29. However, it is imperative that we consider building on this foundation and accelerating change in transforming the media system so that it can connect with the mass of citizens who in fact comprise “democracy”. Media restructuring must take place as part of the broader political movement to democratize, deracialise and create a non-sexist South Africa.

  30. It is the fundamental duty of the ANC, the Alliance and all democrats, including democratic intellectuals to rip the veil off the power of media and transform media into an agent that enables equitable decision-making.
    The legacy of apartheid
  31. It is important that consideration be given to the background, which has produced the media that South Africa has today, to understand the relationship between representatives of our society and the media. The present media conjuncture is a by-product of similar conditions that shaped the prevailing socio-economic environment. This background has shaped the political outlooks, philosophies and choices of also the people who own and manage the media. Yet more, importantly, it has shaped the way the media views and treat political developments and built the media`s frame of reference.

  32. The ANC in a discussion document “Media In a Democracy” stated: “The media in South Africa is shaped by the same political, social and economic forces which have shaped our society over several decades. At the same time, the media has itself in various ways and at different points contributed to the development of these forces. Under the apartheid state, the media played a leading role in propping up white support for the dominant political ideology. A smaller section of this media played a role at different points in challenging this ideology.”

  33. The behaviour of media during the apartheid years left a legacy that has not been eradicated nor properly discussed. At every turn when media were invited to shed light on its past, only a few have risen to the challenge. In the meantime most of the decision makers during these repressive years have continued doing what they were doing then. It is therefore not surprising that sections of the media continue to act in a manner, which resist meaningful transformation of our country. Opponents of transformation regard state structures over which they do not have any influence as a threat to the maintenance of the status quo.

  34. There is therefore a need to continually engage with the media around their attitude towards the democratic movement and government, difficult though this may be. As we challenge the media on its relationship with the progressive movement, care should be exercised that criticism of the media and its particular behaviour should not lead to a situation in which the ANC is perceived as opposed to the freedom of the media in general. The struggle for a media that reflects the diversity inherent in our society should not be confused with an anti-media stance.

  35. The ANC has fought for the freedom of the media and the protections that it enjoys today and as enshrined in the Constitution. The struggle for the transformation of the media should be rooted within a campaign to extend these media freedoms to be enjoyed by all South Africans.

  36. This struggle should not be confused with the criticism that will be leveled against the media from time to time because it is intrusive, embarrassing, irresponsible, disruptive, vulgar, brash and uniformed. Undoubtedly the media is all of the above things some of the time. Indications are that this kind of media behaviour in all countries has led to a decline in the esteem in which the media is held in almost all the democracies.

  37. The ANC must put media reform on the political agenda. This should be aimed at dealing with anti-democratic tendencies within the media system. Media reform should be located within the broader political programme to transform South Africa.
    The role of Media in a democratic South Africa
  38. All observers of political developments agree generally that the media plays an important, or perhaps central, role in providing the institutional basis for having an informed and perhaps participating citizenry. In modern politics in as much as there can be no democracy without citizens` active involvement, it can be argued that there can be no democracy without a diverse media capable of engaging the citizens in matters of governance and other social developments.

  39. If a democracy is committed to letting citizens have equal influence over political affairs, it is crucial that all citizens have access to a wide range of well-formulated political positions on the core issues of the day, as well as rigorous debates on activities that cover the political, social, cultural and economic domains. However, unless media is available in an equitable way, it tends to underpin the tendency towards social inequality and the exclusion of some sections of the population from political and economic debates.

  40. In most democracies, it is a given that there exist a variety of media outlets that espouse different political beliefs and support different political positions. During elections media acknowledge political choices by openly declaring support for political parties and their programmes.

  41. Most probably, it is in South Africa alone where a political movement that enjoys almost two thirds of electoral support does not have any media outlet that supports its programmes and functions editorially within it`s political ambit.

  42. This state of affairs stands in contrast to the collective body of media that on any given day will take the same positions and choices as the opposition parties who collectively cannot garner more than a third of the vote in elections. Thus the movement does not have effective mechanisms to communicate with the people who have placed it in power.

  43. Yet any criticism of how the media is structured and functions or fails to function, is denounced in the very same media as threats to the freedom of the media. The medium whose overriding responsibility is to promote the airing and reflection of a diversity of views most often when faced with criticism turns to the role of being the suppressor of open discussion.

  44. This approach is not confined to the debate on the role and the behaviour of the media, but cut across major areas of socio-economic activity in which certain viewpoints are deemed by the media to be off-limits. Most of these viewpoints are reflective of the deep-seated desire to transform the South African society from its past. Proponents of these viewpoints are representatives of political parties on the left of the political spectrum, representatives of labour, civic organizations and official representatives of government.

  45. This is how the media in South Africa fails democratic discussion in the country by failing to play its meaningful role in facilitating an open exchange of views by society in transition in order to arrive at informed decision-making by the citizens.
    Relationship between media and the organs of society
  46. The ANC in the discussion document entitled Uprooting the Demon of Racism makes an observation that: “The media in South Africa, too reflected the divisions of the past based on race. Since 1994 there has been a tendency for sections of the media to position itself above their social responsibility to inform and to reflect the broad diversity of views in our society.”

  47. The ANC discussion document goes on to point out that:”They, (the media) like the opposition, see themselves as the protectors of South Africa`s liberty against “the natural inclination of a predominantly black government to dictatorship and corruption”

  48. The above quotes sum up the problematic area of the relationship between the organs of society and the media. The question needs to be asked as to how does the media view and treat the legitimate democratic state that came into being since 1994 and the movement that came to power by popular mandate?

  49. The uneasy relationship between the elected organs and the media is founded on political realities even though some from the media might not be aware or conscious of the fundamental political issues underpinning this uneasy relationship.

  50. There is an overwhelming perception that the media in general has failed to come to terms with the political changes that placed a pre-dominantly black party to lead our country. Within this environment the state and other organs of society are perceived in terms and roles designed for an illegitimate state. Activities of the state and its representative are viewed with suspicion, if not with open hostility. Although subtle, there lurks the ever-present racial stereotyping and compartmentalization of the South African population.

  51. In this environment, there is no space for the representatives of the organs of society to articulate the vision and discuss the opportunities and hurdles that face our transformation. Simply stated, the media has not provided sufficient space for any meaningful dialogue on the challenges and choices that we face as a country.

  52. Most often than not, it is the opponents of the transformation agenda of government who find space to articulate their views. Instead of debate, media is dominated by sound bytes from the political parties that are opposed to the ANC programme. Thus being independent in media circles is seen as being anti-ANC. Proponents of this approach have consistently disguised this hostility to the organs of society and the ANC as no more than the traditional role of the media as a watchdog over the behaviour of state institutions and their representatives.

  53. This so-called watchdog role needs to be interrogated. There is overwhelming evidence of sections of the media treating government with open hostility because of its political programme. A true watchdog would provide space for the correct reporting of events and developments that shape the national life rather than partisan positions. Fundamentally, the media ignores the critical issues of transformation and consequently, does not give space to representatives of societal organs to articulate the choices that confront South Africans.

  54. In its statement Media in a Democracy the ANC observes, “Yet one aspect of the media`s role which has proven difficult to effectively debate, not surprisingly given the country`s history, is the relationship between the media, government and ruling party.”

  55. So long as transformation of the media is off-limits as subject of political debate, it would be difficult to imagine any permanent qualitative change for the better in the relationship between media, government and the ruling party. The media is resisting the discussion on the above-mentioned relationship as a way to protect its partisan role and hide its opposition to the far-reaching changes proposed by the movement.
    Mass media and diversity
  56. The considerable progress made and some significant milestones achieved within the communications industry particularly with regard to ownership patterns, the licensing of new media at commercial and community levels; the increase of black and women journalists, editors and managers, as well as the repositioning of the SABC to play a role of being a public broadcaster, driven by a public mandate as opposed to party political role, has to an extent introduced a measure of diversity in ownership, with black empowerment groups and union funds controlling some of the assets.

  57. This has been an important development as it lays the basis for an inclusive media environment that will in time be capable to reflect the diversity in views and interests in our society.

  58. The entry of blacks and women in the ranks of journalists, editors and managers heralds a day when the newsroom will be fully representative of our society. Indeed much work still needs to done to undo the culture and the framework that characterizes the newsrooms.

  59. The changes outlined above are only putative first steps towards the transformation of the media industry. The overwhelming fact is that these changes have not altered the environment and practice of media in any fundamental way. These steps will only bear fruits if they go beyond investments to include effective control and management at both editorial and company levels.

  60. The need for diversity as going beyond ownership is correctly captured in the ANC statement Media in a Democracy. The statement observes: “Ownership alone does not guarantee diversity – there needs to be a diversity of voices in the media. This means the newsrooms of this country need to reflect a diversity of perspectives and experiences, not mere among journalists, but among sub-editors, editors, managers, even photographers. It means they need also to give space to various voices and perspectives. Too often, for example we are provided with expert analysis exclusively from white men, some time white women, occasionally black men and very rarely black women. This is not because black women (or men) lack insight or are unwilling to express their views, but because we have not worked hard enough to break down the racist and sexist intellectual hierarchy in the country. The media need to analyse very critically the race, gender, class and age profile of the people it gives voice to.”

  61. In the preceding quote emphasis is placed correctly on those whose viewpoints are quoted and those who are shapers and crafters of the content and public perceptions.

  62. Yet there is another level at which the South African media must be analyzed and contextualised in relationship to diversity. This relates to the mere availability of channels, outlets and titles addressing themselves to issues and developments that affect the various segments of the South African population.

  63. An important aspect of diversity is not just to receive a form of media but importantly a media that informs citizens about issues and matters that are of interest and importance to them; and a medium through which citizens articulate their viewpoints. It is this element of diversity that can be useful in the exercise of the freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution.

  64. Despite the many forms and outlets, there still remain a vast majority of South Africans who are not perceived as participants in the media industry as presently constructed. In instances where there is media that will report on developments that are closer to the interests of these South Africans, such media is constrained by financial and other capacity problems to reach and involve these South Africans in a meaningful way. Most of the time such media is only in the form of the African Language Stations of the SABC.

  65. We would like to cite the example of people in rural areas. There should be an acknowledgement as well that black people in the urban areas are not in a fundamentally different position in terms of exposure to a diverse and engaging media from their perspective.

  66. The conclusion based on Future Focus 2000 Research is that if you happen to be in rural areas, black, women or male and prefer to speak a language other than English, you have no media (daily, weekly, monthly) that perceives you as a desirable target market. Despite many channels, outlets and titles, there is no media other than the SABC that can contextualise the socio-political developments from the perspectives and needs of the rural poor.

  67. These South Africans who constitute more than 45% of the South African population rely on one service (SABC language service), the word of mouth and political rallies (when they do occur) for making their informed decisions. These South Africans are in the main the constituency of the ANC. An average of 75% indicated support for the ANC in the Consumer Scope 2000 Research.

  68. There are a number of questions that must be raised from this. The first is how does the ANC keep in contact with this important constituency in order to mobilize and engage in common action with it?

  69. The second question is how does this constituency interact with the democratization process and the many programmes that have been rolled out by government to alleviate its plight when it is faceless and voiceless?

  70. These are important questions that shape the politics of South Africa, what gets to be debated, whose interests are primary and who gets the chance to project their point of view.
    Challenges and issues for discussion
  71. The movement as an agent for fundamental social change should take an ongoing interest in the influence of mass media. This is so because the mass media are continuously setting the agenda for trends and events as they occur on the local, national and international levels. In this context, imagine a situation where you have a mass media, which is generally hostile to the progressive transformation agenda. The influence of such hostile mass media to the society would be profoundly negative because of the repetitive nature and accumulative nature of mass communication.

  72. The challenges facing us as we prepare for conference include what we need to do to ensure that we encourage and engage with the media to:-
    • Promote and be sensitive to positive developmental processes that are in line with nationally established policies such as nation – building, reconciliation, the creation of a non – racial and non-sexist society and a better life for all South Africans;
    • Give priority in its content to common binding values, socio – economic, cultural and language factors while being sensitive to nurturing of South African diversity.
    • For media workers and press organizations to embrace a societal responsibility whilst enjoying their individual freedom in their information gathering.
    • To build be pluralism and reflect the diversity of our society, giving access to various points of view and to the right of reply
  73. In addition, how do we encourage the media to avoid utilizing material be it in visual, text or verbal form that may contribute to the promotion and escalation of crime, violence, corruption, indecency, hate speech or civil disorder or what may give offence to ethnic or religious sensitivities.

  74. There may be a necessity to consider formation of communication or civil society foras where media may interact with various formations to sharpen its understanding of various societal issues and also receive feedback on the quality and accuracy of its coverage. This may go a long way in re-instilling lost confidence in the media.
  75. As discussed in the document the problems of media in South Africa are as a result of the same political, social and economic forces, which have shaped our society over several decades. At the same time the media is today an important player influencing the pace and direction of public debate and discussion. This places the media in the political domain.

  76. Creating a better media system should be part of broader social changes. The ANC should place media transformation as part of its political agenda which promotes a free press that puts pride of place political, social, economic; cultural and developmental needs of our society.

  77. The ANC as a vanguard must lead the struggle for a representative media, drawing upon other sectors of society to common action to realize this goal. There would not be changes in media unless there is a popular movement that is going to engage institutions of the media within our society.

  78. What we have to do as the ANC is to organise and encourage various other civil society organs to do so around media issues. Experience from some of the social debates and work done by the HRC for example has shown that there is a tremendous amount of interest. People feel powerless because they never hear about these media issues in a language they can understand and link to their participation in the democratization process. They do not know that they can actually do something about issues in the media.

  79. Government should re-evaluate its working model for media that reaches and draws all segments of our population into the democratic discussion. The advertising commercially driven model has limitations. There needs to be a re-organisation of the media model with a strong emphasis on the public and community tiers that are adequately funded to address the needs of those who are marginalized by the commercial media.

  80. These new channels must deal with the political developments from the point of view and interests of these segments of our population. In the main they must enable the citizens to interact with government at all levels and not only at national level as is the case now. Public and community services in languages spoken in localities should reflect the political organization of the country and move away from the Johannesburg centric deployment of infrastructure.

  81. The ANC needs to build a coalition of all the organised groups in society which already have an interest in media transformation, for example, labor artists, progressive journalists, all of whom are deeply concerned about the state of our media system.