Image Credit Pinterest: First T.V. broadcast in South Africa 1975. On the 5th May 1975 the first test broadcast was aired to the public.No matter how boring some items were everybody sat glued to their screens. The fully fledged service commenced on the 5th January 1976
“As a public broadcaster, the SABC has a constitutional duty to uphold freedom of expression and act in the best interest of the South African public – a duty which it is failing to fulfil”
To fully understand the role of the broadcaster anywhere, especially in South Africa, it is quintessential to read and understand what a broadcaster is.
Broadcasting is the distribution of audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic mass communications medium, but typically one using the electromagnetic spectrum, in a one-to-many model.
South Africa is democratic country that has risen from its dark days to become a triumphant state, find itself one of the world’s greatest state of milk and honey for all travelling far and wide looking for a better life of tremendous opportunities.
How we know this, we must give thanks to the public broadcaster for playing a pivotal role in showcasing the ugly, the beauty and the glory of its phoenix like life. The role of the public broadcaster is to produce news worthy content, may it be entertainment or general news, without fear or favour to the left or right wing.
After rising from the ashes of apartheid and propaganda prone media of the regime, South Africa created an Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), which regulated the country’s broadcasting industry, which previously was under the direct control of the government’s Department of Home Affairs. The introduction of a regulator, with constitutionally guaranteed independence, making it a significant leap towards the future of broadcasting.
In the early 2000s, the state of South Africa saw a merger between IBA and the telecommunications regulator the South African Telecommunications Authority (SATRA) to create the now known as the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
The media’s independence is the most crucial aspect of it. In order to ensure its independence, the media must conduct is role with its utmost respect to its independence, thus calling for funding from other industries, outside from the government and powerful corporations, and this is where we find the gap for advertising, which is called the advertising media
The advertising media is known as billboards, magazines, newspapers, radio, television, and internet by which promotional messages are communicated to the public using words, speech, and pictures.
In South Africa, the media has a gross advertising revenue for South Africa’s broadcasting industry is estimated to have increased in value from just over R2 billion to close to R8.5 billion between 1994 and 2006.
The media in South Africa is very varied. Public broadcasting is provided by the state broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), through an annual payment of a TV licence fee. Free-to-air is provided by commercial broadcaster e.tv and subscription television services. MNet and DStv are provided by Multichoice. In 2007 Icasa issued licences for four new pay-TV providers set to end Multichoice Africa’s monopoly in the pay-TV market, these are: Telkom Media, On Digital Media (ODM), e.sat and Walk on Water Television, as well as incumbent MultiChoice.
In SA Media Facts report for March 2009, OMD Media Direction found that there were 21 daily newspapers, 27 major weeklies, 660 consumer magazines, 735 business-to-business publications, 470 community newspapers and magazines, 92 television stations, 137 radio stations, and over 65 DStv audio channels.
Regarding digital media, there were 10.9 internet users per 100 people, 8.5 personal computers per 100 people and 72.4 cellphone subscribers per 100 people. Web pages indexed by Google were estimated at more than 10 billion.
The Republic of South Africa drew up a broadcasting act (No. 4 of 1999) clearly indicating, regardless of outside countries media, what is expected from media hubs dwelling within the South African borders:
Safeguard and contribute to the democracy of the state of South Africa, development of society, gender equality, nation building, provision of education and strengthening the spiritual and moral fibre of society.
Encourage more media hubs to rise from the ideas of future leaders, ensure a variety of news from entertainment to infotainment. Cater for a broad range of services and specifically for the programming needs in respect of children, women, the youth and the disabled. But more importantly encourage the development of human resources and training, and capacity building within the broadcasting sector especially amongst historically disadvantaged groups.
It is important to note that the broadcaster must provide for the three tier system of public, community and commercial broadcasting services.
There are bodies that are charged with regulating the media, and that duty is entreusted to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). ICASA, a Chapter 9 institute, was established in July 2000 as a merger of the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).
ICASA falls under schedule 1 of the Public Finance Management Act No 1 of 1999. The mandate is set out in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act, Act No 13 of 2000, the Electronic Communications Act, Act No 35 of 2005, as amended, the Postal Services Act No 24 of 1998 and the Broadcasting Act No 4 of 1999 for the regulation of electronic communications, broadcasting and the postal sectors in the public interest.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is the official regulator of the South African communications, broadcasting and postal services sectors.
Developing regulations for these sectors, issuing licences to telecommunications and broadcasting service providers, monitoring licensee compliance with rules and regulations, plan and manage the radio frequency spectrum, and protect consumers against unfair business practices and poor-quality services.
Everything done by ICASA is aimed at ensuring that all people in South Africa have access to basic communication services at affordable prices. In terms of the licence agreements, operators have to roll out services in under-serviced areas and ICASA ensures that licensees contribute to the Universal Service and Access Fund.
As far as journalism goes, it is the most important role, just after government officials and ceo’s. The role of media personnels is one of crucial importance. Many times you find that what is happening shouldn’t happen, yet many are not raising their voice, because they might not know how to go about raising their voice with any sort of injustice.
“The media is the voice of the voiceless”. This also reminds me of the fact that, we are in an age of artificial intelligence, that raises the thought of many jobs will be replaced by robotic workforce, but journalism.
They only way journalism will be replaced, is if they are censored, because a complete removal of journalism is an unideological world where freedom, independence and individuality is no more.
The importance of the media is found even in war times, where ethical journalism is substituted with propaganda, which is a wing of journalism, but one that exists in times of war and oppression.
Journalism is a timeless industry that doesn’t change, but rather changes its tools and mechanisms.
- Sibanda, R (2016). Understanding the role of the SABC, available on https://www.iol.co.za/news/opinion/understanding-the-role-of-the-sabc-2044221 (accessed on 28 May 2018)
- National Association of broadcasters. Available on http://www.nab.org.za/content/page/broadcast-industry (accessed on 28 May 2018)
- Brand South Africa (2007). The media in South Africa. Available on https://www.brandsouthafrica.com/south-africa-fast-facts/media-facts/the-media-in-south-africa (accessed on 28 May 2018)
- SABC Broadcasting act, available on http://www.sabc.co.za/sabc/broadcasting-act/ (accessed on 28 May 2018)