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The Electronic Journal of Communication / La Revue Electronique de Communication

Volume 10 Numbers 1 and 2, 2000

Reactions to Globalisation

D. Pieter Conradie
Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa

Abstract.  This article discusses the different ways in which the South African television industry has reacted to globalisation forces during the post-apartheid era that started in the early 1990s. Of particular interest is how the local television industry initially planned political and economic reforms aimed at bringing the industry more in line with global trends, but then later reacted mainly to protect the local television production industry against foreign competition and to protect local viewers against perceived cultural imperialism impacts of foreign programs. These protective actions were however not as successful as was intended with regard to promoting local television content production. The paper discusses the underlying dynamics of the globalisation and the various localisation processes that occurred (varying chronologically from primary, to secondary, to tertiary localisation), as well as the ways in which television industries in other parts of the world have reacted to similar global forces. It is contended that the local South African television production industry stands to benefit most in future if broadcasting policy makers respond more pro-actively to opportunities offered by global technological forces operating upon the industry. This is in agreement with the thrust of the latest broadcasting policy process of the Department of Communication. It is concluded that a recent joint initiative by the country’s two major broadcasters in which an increased number of both locally produced and other "African" programs are being broadcast via satellite to prospective geo-cultural markets in the rest of Africa, holds promise for the future viability of the South African television industry.

Introduction: Increased Exposure to Global Forces

The first fully democratic elections that were held in South Africa in 1994 heralded the start of a new era in almost every walk of life in the country. Most economic sanctions and other international punitive measures directed against the country had finally been removed, and after decades of international isolation South Africa finally took its place as a fully-fledged member of the global community. For the South African economy this meant not only more access to new global business opportunities, but also more exposure to global threats and challenges (Horwitz, 1997). For most industries increased contact with globalisation processes had become an everyday reality, and the pros and cons associated with globalisation sometimes presented decisions makers with difficult policy options.

Within the South African television industry globalisation posed some challenges that made contradictory demands on different sectors of the industry, especially with regard to the production of local television programs. For example, global economic forces dictated that broadcasters should include more foreign programs in their domestic broadcasts in order to save on program acquisition costs and to make television channels commercially more competitive. On the other hand, this course of action was seen as being bad for job opportunities in the local television production industry. Also, a high percentage of foreign programs in domestic broadcasts meant that local television services were reflecting foreign rather than local cultural interest, and this was considered by many political decision makers to be a type of cultural invasion that could result in a loss of cultural identity among viewers (Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology [DACST], 1997).

This paper contends that many of the reactions of the South African television industry to globalisation were made with regard to global cultural forces, and then usually from one very specific perspective of how globalisation affects societies - the cultural imperialist (see Schiller, 1991; Roach, 1998) perspective. Unfortunately however, these reactions were generally not very successful (DACST, 1997). This discussion takes the view that some of the problems currently still being experienced locally in the industry could have been alleviated if the broadcasting policy makers had broadened their perspective earlier to include less protectionist modes of response to globalisation forces, and if they had responded more pro-actively by trying to exploit the benefits of global technological forces impacting on and available to the industry. Conclusions are based on an analysis structured according to four questions. These questions deal with the different ways in which globalisation can be defined, how reactions to and impacts of globalisation can be classified and understood, how television industries world-wide have reacted to globalisation, and how the South African television industry has reacted to globalisation.

What is Globalisation?

Defining Globalisation as More than an Economic Process

Globalisation is a complex term that is understood differently by different people. For some scholars globalisation is understood as being mainly an economic process, e.g. as being the way in which the economies of various countries are becoming increasingly linked (Hamilton, 1997). [1] For other scholars however, globalisation is a broader term that goes beyond the integration of economies, and for them globalisation can be described in terms such as "the confluence of economic, political, social, and cultural factors interacting on a world scale thanks to the expansion of knowledge, information, trade, and technology beyond geographic borders and poles of economic activity" (Morales-Gómez, 1997, p.2). Here the emphasis is on trans-border interactions involving different types of global forces. A variation of this more encompassing perspective describes globalisation in terms of the different sectors within countries that these globalisation forces can impact on, e.g. specific industries, social and cultural systems, policies, or social reform processes aimed at achieving human development and human security (UNDP 1994, as described in Morales-Gómez & Torres, 1997).

The approach of this paper is to view globalisation as involving not only economic forces contributing to (or flowing from) the integration of economies throughout the world, but also as involving other global forces (e.g. technological, political, and cultural forces) that interact more broadly than just in the economic arena. This is in agreement with the approaches of most television policy makers world-wide (see Sinclair, Jacka & Cunningham, 1996).

Scholars who take the broader view of globalisation often differ with regard to which types of processes play the most important globalising role. Lodge (1995) for example, someone who describes globalisation as a process whereby the world’s people are becoming increasingly interconnected in all facets (cultural, economic, political, technological and environmental) of their lives, states that economic processes such as international trade and investment are the main drivers of globalisation. On the other hand Waters (1995) proposes that globalisation is greater in the cultural arena than in the economic or political arenas. These different approaches naturally have implications for how the impacts of global forces are perceived and for decisions on how local responses to globalisation are made.

For this discussion it seems reasonable to assume that the importance of a specific global force would depend on what role-players and what sectors of society we are taking into consideration. Just as beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, so can it be said that importance is in the minds of those making the judgement. We expect decision makers who think that their interests are being affected substantially by a particular force to rate the importance of that force higher than would those who are less affected by it. Therefore, within any single industry the mind-sets of local decision makers play a major role in determining which global forces are seen as having an important enough impact in that industry to warrant some kind of response.

Globalisation as a Process Operating and Impacting on Two Levels

According to Waters (1995) globalisation can be defined as a social process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede, but at the same time it is a process in which people become aware that these constraints are receding. In other words globalisation processes operates on two levels. For Robertson (1992), globalisation also takes place on two levels: firstly as compression of the world on a concrete level, and secondly as compression of the world on a socio-cultural level, where general views of life in terms of cognitions and values and "the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole" (Robertson, 1992, p.8) play a vital role. [2]

For this discussion these views mean that any globalisation forces such as global economic changes or major technological developments can impact on local industries in two ways - directly and indirectly. An example of a global economic force that could have a direct impact on a local industry would be a drastic change in the international exchange rate of the local currency with regard to other currencies. Such a change would, in agreement with the tenets of hard economic determinism as defined by Chandler (1995), be expected to automatically have a direct influence on the price of imported products in that industry.

Indirect impacts of global forces are those impacts that are mediated by one or more intervening local variable, e.g. along the lines of weak economic determinism or weak technological determinism (Chandler, 1995). These mediating socio-cultural variables are intangibles such as people’s cognitions and values, e.g. the perceptions and attitudes of decision makers or other role-players in an industry affected by globalisation. For example, say there was a dramatic technological breakthrough that could enable countries world-wide to receive twice as many television broadcasts via satellite than previously. In any particular country the impact of this breakthrough would depend on if and how it was implemented locally, and in turn this would depend largely on local broadcasting decision makers’ views of potential problems and benefits associated with the new technology. It therefore follows that socio-cultural variables such as the mind-sets of role-players in a particular industry not only help determine (as described previously) the perceived importance of global forces operative in that industry, but they also contribute largely to the local impact of and response to globalisation processes.

How Can Reactions To and Impacts of Globalisation Be Classified and Understood?
Different Types of Reactions to Globalisation

Banting (1995) distinguishes between four types of people (called Globalists, Global Skeptics, Orthodox Keynesians and the Traditional Left) on the basis of how they tend to react to economic globalisation. Expanding on Banting’s system, Figure 1 presents four corresponding modes of reaction (Restructure, Reform, Reinforce and Resist) to globalisation forces. This four-fold scheme can be used in any industry as an aid to classifying and understanding decision makers’ reactions to global forces impacting on that industry.



The horizontal axis in Figure 1 reflects different views of the significance of globalisation within any particular social arena, e.g. the economy as a whole or a specific industry. This axis differentiates between the responses of those who believe that globalisation represent a fundamental change from the past and the responses of those who state that current conditions are normal extension of past trends and therefore do not represent a radical change. The vertical axis represents normative views on whether or not increasing integration with the wider international community in that arena is desirable. If we take reactions to globalisation within the economic arena as an example, the four types of responses identified in Figure 1 are those of four groups of decision makers who have different views regarding the desirability of economic globalisation and regarding the degree of change that globalisation has brought about in the global economy.

Continuing with the example of responses in the economic arena, the typical reaction of the Globalists represented in the top right-hand corner of the figure would be to take restructuring measures aimed at changing local conditions radically so as to make the most of globalisation. Globalists are people who are in favour of economic globalisation but who believe that the global economy is now functioning in such a radically different way than before that the ability of nation states to combat this is significantly constrained (Banting, 1995; see also Giddens, 1997, for his description of hyper-globalizers).

Globalists’ reactions to economic globalisation would typically include the restructuring of the local economy, the education and training of citizens so that they can compete effectively in the world economy, and policy changes that would enhance flexibility in labour markets (Banting, 1995). According to Ouattra (1997) of the International Monetary fund (IMF), those countries that have profited the most from economic globalisation are those that have responded with Globalist policy changes aimed at achieving macro-economic stability, promoting openness to trade and capital flows, and limiting government intervention to areas of genuine market failure.

The Global Skeptics in the top left-hand corner of Figure 1 are people who are in favour of economic globalisation but who are skeptical of the view that the economy is now functioning in a radically new way (see also Giddens, 1997, for his description of globalization skeptics). Their typical reaction to globalisation would be to advocate reform processes that reflect domestic choices and needs (Banting, 1995).

The reaction to globalisation of those who could be classified as belonging to the Traditional Left, who are not in favour of economic globalisation, would be to resist further integration into the global order on unrestricted terms. They would, for example, insist on world trade being conducted in terms compatible with the preservation of local social and democratic values, e.g. by the insertion of social requirements into international trading agreements. On the other hand, the reaction of the Keynesians (named after the British economist John Maynard Keynes), people who also are against economic globalisation, would typically be to reinforce existing structures and processes, e.g. by demanding more expansive macro-economic policies to increase the aggregate demand in external economies and to reduce the slack in labour markets (Banting, 1995).

Positive and Negative Impacts of Globalisation

The globalisation literature refers to a variety of both positive and negative impacts that the integration of economies can have. It is clear that the two groups of people in the top half of Figure 1 (Globalists and Global Skeptics) will, because they are in favour of increased integration with the wider international community, most probably react by trying to make the most of the potential benefits of globalisation. Such benefits could include the opportunity to increase exports (Labond, 1996; Hamilton, 1997), increases in trade that give consumers a wider choice of low cost goods, better access to advanced technologies and other global resources, and employment opportunities for skilled labour in the tradable goods sector (Ouattra, 1997).

The other two groups of people in the bottom half of Figure 1 (the Orthodox Keynesians and the Traditional left) are likely to react to the negative impacts or risks associated with globalisation. Possible negative impacts of globalisation include a crisis of identity (Labond, 1996), and increased competition (Dey & Westendorff, 1996) that could lead to economic dislocation, social instability, winner-takes-all situations, less job security and even elimination of jobs (Korten, 1996).[3]

Among the risks often associated with economic globalisation is the fact that structural weakness in economies are exposed as investment capital seeks out the most efficient markets, while capital mobility could lead to destabilizing flows and heightened exchange rate volatility (Ouattra, 1997). Even for developed countries additional imports from lower-wage countries can shift production to other countries, hurting local wages and decreasing local job opportunities (Hamilton, 1997). Also, economic integration can occur at the cost of a reduced autonomy of the nation state (Petrella, 1991): there could be a loss of economic and political sovereignty (Gillespie, 1998), and national economies and governments are vulnerable at the hands of international markets and international political economy (Theunissen, 1996).

Understanding Reactions to Globalisation Forces: Localisation Actions

A useful concept in the literature that sheds light on the dynamics of local reactions to global forces, is localisation. Localisation can be defined (De Kock, 1997, p. 6) as a process that expresses the "need to maintain local or national control over the processes and pace of change". Localisation actions can therefore be seen as local reactions to external globalising forces, and depending on the geographical scope of the response, localisation actions can operate on different levels.

Localisation actions are often a response to the fragmentation that could occur as a result of global forces’ weakening effect on national or other borders. Integration on one level can often have a fragmenting effect on another level, e.g. the collapse of socialist nation states such as the USSR and Yugoslavia and their integration into the free world was accompanied by separatist tendencies and the emergence of smaller states (Rodriguez, 1997). Fragmentation can therefore be described as being the opposite of globalisation (Clark, 1997; Cardoso, 1996), but as it so often accompanies globalisation it also seems to be part of globalisation, and this reflects a paradox inherent to the process of globalisation (Rodriguez, 1997). Localisation and globalisation can also be understood as the thesis and antithesis of a dialectic process (see Woods & Grant, 1995) that leads to change: The two interact directly and each functions as a causal source for the other (Rosenau, 1995; Gillespie, 1998; Dekker, 1996).

Braman (1996) distinguishes between three types or phases of localisation processes (those based on either primary, secondary or tertiary locality): Primary localisation emanates mainly from a traditional environment in which the local is identified with physical place, and in which the local in its material forms constitutes culture. In such an environment, place is usually understood as the conjuncture of geographic, material and social forces as they come together to create a home. Secondary localisation is associated with a modernistic environment in which the local is defined as a culturally based reference point. It is secondary locality that drives tourism economically. Tertiary localisation is emerging out of the postmodern condition in which the local is seen as a willed construct that is conceptually (symbolically) defined. It also involves the local as being increasingly grounded in experiences with virtual communities in cyberspace. It follows from this exposition that the type of localisation actions that societies make in response to globalisation will largely be determined by whether these actions emanate from a traditional, modern or postmodern environment.

Also instrumental in determining the scope and nature of localisation actions, are those aspects or dimensions of the local that are emphasised most in these actions. Braman (1996) mentions four such dimensions of the local: (a) geographic definition (physical properties that define local), (b) cultural and historical aspects of a geographic site (referred to as locale), (c) sites of human agency (locus), and (d) material features of a place that are reproducible elsewhere (location, as in a movie location). Should, for example, the geographic dimension of a localisation response to globalisation be emphasised in such a way that is undertaken on a regional level across national borders, then that localisation action itself could be experienced in the adjacent areas as a new, and possibly negative, globalisation force inviting further reaction.

Some localisation actions on a regional level can therefore involve responding to globalisation in kind - like fighting fire with fire, but to the possible detriment of others in the adjacent areas of the region. Other types of regional responses could benefit all in the region. [4] The potentially negative globalising effect on neighbouring countries of some regional localisation responses make such actions qualitatively different to national/smaller localisation actions. This means that our analysis of how television industries react to globalisation should clearly distinguish – in agreement with Straubhaar’s (1997) distinction between different levels of television flows and impacts- between reactions on a global level, on a regional (larger than national) level, and those on a national or smaller scale.

Within the broadcasting industry (see Sinclair et al., 1996) localisation measures on a regional level have, where possible to implement, usually proved to be an effective mode of response that benefited the country initiating the response. Many developing countries have however chosen to rather go on the defensive against external global forces and have instituted regulations that are aimed at nurturing the growth of local industries or ensuring a level of economic autonomy. Depending on whether or not they are subject to a free trade treaty developed under the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) or the World Trade Organisation (WTO), such actions could be deemed illegal and then could not be exercised (Mwangi, 1996). Broadcasting is however, not subject to such GATT or WTO agreements (Sinclair et al., 1996).

How Have TV Industries World-Wide Reacted to Globalisation?

In their review of television industries world-wide over the past few decades, Sinclair et al. (1996) note that ever since the late 1970s, the global audio-visual landscape has increasingly been subject to four types of global forces of change:

Economic forces: These included firstly some broad economic changes such as the rise of Asian economies and the move toward a post-Fordist mode of organisation of the economy in the Western world. This meant a push for more global trade liberation and competition on a national and international level, but less centrality of the state in the provision of services and goods. Outside the USA there were also economic pressures on television production industries resulting from the increased availability and importing of relatively cheap foreign television programs.

Political forces: These included the impacts on broadcasting industries of shifts in geopolitical patterns resulting from changes such as the demise of communism and the redrawing of boundaries in Europe, as well as the political consequences of a global shift towards less state dominance in broadcasting industries.

Cultural forces: These included the cultural effects associated with the increased availability of foreign - mostly USA - television program content.

Technological forces: These were experienced mainly in the form of more access to new and more effective broadcasting technologies, e.g. satellite television, cable television and digital technologies. Theses forces were the result of dramatic world-wide advances in the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) that is said (European Community Information Society Project Office 1995) to be creating a global information society.

Television industries world-wide have, as summarised in the following discussion that is based largely on the findings of Sinclair et al. (1996), tended to react differently to these forces.

Reactions of TV Iindustries to Global Economic and Political Forces

Until the late 1970s only three regions in the world (North America, Latin America, and Australia) had mixed broadcasting systems, i.e. a combination of public and private sectors. Elsewhere state-owned broadcasting dominated in the form of either public service (Europe) or state-controlled (Asia and Middle East) transmissions. However, as the Fordist model of economic and political organisation began to lose support, there was a global shift from state regulation to market regulation (Barnett, 1998). In many television industries this led to the introduction of privately owned commercial competitors to the public service monopolies - first in Italy, then in other European countries such as Germany, France, Holland and the United Kingdom.

The introduction of commercial television stations in turn led to an increase in channels and an increase in competition between these channels, accompanied by a new commercial force acting upon television industries in many countries: the market dominance of relatively cheap foreign television programming coming mainly from the USA (see also Burgelman, 1994). The reason for USA being able to provide this programming cheaply, lay in the USA audiovisual industry’s competitive advantage (Porter, 1986) of having unique access to the largest English speaking market in the world (Hoskins & MacFadyen, 1991). This represented an economic threat to local manufacturers of television programs, and in reaction political localisation measures appeared in some countries in the form of local television content quotas - both on a national level (e.g. in Canada) and on a regional level such as the European Union (EU). A related political reaction on a regional level was the EU’s continued refusal to open their audiovisual industries to free trade under the GATT trade-in-services agreement, or to accept WTO authority in broadcasting matters (a "resist" action in terms of Figure 1).

Reactions of TV Industries to Global Cultural Forces

The availability of relatively cheap foreign (mostly USA) television content led to contrasting reactions by different role-players in television industries world-wide. In most countries television audiences responded positively to the universal appeal (Raboy, 1997) of the new programs. Viewers were especially attracted to the their high technical standards, swift pace and action, familiarity of characters and predictability of outcome (Mersham, 1998). This resulted in a world-wide consumer demand for new types of contents and formats. Broadcasters in these countries were generally happy to meet this need by broadcasting more and more imported programs. This resulted in a flow of cultural products from the USA to the rest of the world that was initially described as a one-way street (Nordenstreng & Varis, 1974).

The dynamics of this one-way flow of cultural products has been described in the work of cultural imperialism scholars such as Schiller (1991): According to this view, such world patterns of communication flows mirror and reinforce system of economic and political domination. This perceived global cultural invasion contributed to defensive localisation actions ("resist" responses in Figure 1) on a national level by broadcasting decision makers, such as the censorship of foreign programs (e.g. in most Arab countries and in India), or the imposition of local program quotas on local broadcasters (e.g. in Canada). This protectionist type of reaction continues today in many countries. The cultural imperialism discourse, the underlying rationale for such actions, has however come under increasing criticism on an empirical level and from theoretical paradigms such as postmodernism and theories of the active audience (Sinclair et al. 1996), as well as from the perspective that sees the mass media as a cultural system – where local cultures interact with the form and content of foreign media and so construct meaning around the media they consume (De Beer, 1998; Servaes & Lie, 1996). Straubhaar (1997) describes cultural imperialism as being overly simplistic, and that it has missed much of the complexity of recent changes in industries, genres and audience reception in the Third World or periphery.

Reactions of TV Industries to Global Technological Forces

Some countries - mostly those with well established and developed audiovisual industries - responded in technological terms to the increased access to new broadcasting technologies by adopting satellite television as a new broadcasting platform that could help them to reach out to new selected television audiences beyond national boundaries. Such a reaction can be described as localisation on a regional level, i.e. regionalism. In terms of Figure 1, it is also a "restructure" type if response to globalisation. It is clear that the attitudes and perceptions of decision makers (e.g. those in the policy-making and signal distribution sectors of the industry) regarding the potential benefits of new broadcasting technologies have played an important role in determining these industries’ reactions to globalisation.

Some of the countries outside of the USA who had responded to global technological forces by using satellite broadcasts to target new markets on a regional level, also reacted to the incoming cultural forces associated with foreign programming by producing more local television programs for the regional satellite broadcasts. Although most of these locally made programs tended to initially follow the general format of overseas programs, their content often later also featured unique local cultural elements (e.g. the Brazilian and Mexican telenovelas: seeStraubhaar & Viscasillas, 1991; Straubhaar, 1997; Straubhaar & LaRose, 1997). These programs were then broadcast both internally and across borders to specific types of audiences - usually audiences speaking the same language as the host country.

This process of increasingly broadcasting local programs containing unique cultural elements to geolinguistic regions has proved to be a formula for success. It has also resulted in a situation where world television flows can no longer always be described a one-way street of cultural influence emanating only from the USA, but rather as a patchwork quilt (Tracey, 1998) with many sources of regional influence. Examples are Brazilian and Mexican satellite broadcasts to Latin American countries, Egyptian broadcasts to other Arab countries, and Indian broadcasts to diasporic audiences in other countries. Straubhaar (1997) calls this the regionalisation of television into multi-country markets linked by geography, language and culture – also known as geo-cultural markets. These developments can be seen as empirical evidence that calls into question the all-powerful medium conception of television and also the cultural imperialism theory. In stead they provide support for the active audience (see Liebes & Katz, 1990) interpretation that states that audiences tend to use culturally foreign television content to suit their own needs (Biernatzki, 1997), or for the viewpoint that television constitutes a cultural system in its own right, rather than a phenomenon in a context of culture (De Beer, 1998; Servaes & Lie, 1996).

How has TV changed in South Africa in reaction to globalisation?

As stated in the Broadcasting Green and White Papers (South Africa, 1997 & 1998b), since the introduction of television in South Africa in 1976 until recently, the broadcasting system in this country was one of the most politicised broadcasting systems in the world. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) functioned as state broadcaster and had a near monopoly of the free-to-air (i.e. no decoder needed) broadcasting services in the country. The only competition for SABC television broadcasts was the pay channel M-Net that started broadcasting locally in 1986 (Soerensen, 1996).

During the 1990s the situation changed dramatically as local political forces accompanying the country’s political transition to democracy, in conjunction with similar global political pressures, triggered the start of a local broadcasting reform process. This broadcasting reform process can be divided into three distinct but sometimes overlapping phases. First, there was the broadcasting policy and legislative rethink that first preceded and then formed part of the multi-party political negotiations leading up to the fist democratic elections in 1994. The period since 1994 has been characterised by public inquiries into (and also the resulting actual transformation of) broadcasting structures taking place under the auspices of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA). Finally, 1997 saw the start of a new Policy Process initiative by the Department of Communication (the public service arm of the Ministry for Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting) that has linked future broadcasting changes to the process of telecommunications restructuring, and that has steadily eroded the power of the IBA.

The Broadcasting Rethink Between 1990 and 1994

The 1990s broadcasting policy debate was set in motion by the appointment of the Task Group on Broadcasting in South and Southern Africa (or Viljoen Task Group) in March 1990, and by media activists’ responses to this Task Group (Louw, 1993). The ensuing debate reflected three views on how the future South African Broadcasting system should be structured (Barnett, 1998): In agreement with the global shift from state regulation to market regulation, private broadcasters argued in favour of deregulation and commercialisation of broadcasting. Civil society groups on the left advocated a public broadcaster operating in a pluralistic environment (encompassing both commercial and community broadcasting) that is regulated by an independent agency, while political decision makers on the right preferred having only a state broadcaster, free from government interference. The two main protagonists - the African National Congress (ANC) and the then ruling National Party (NP) – generally followed different strategies in the debate. The ANC camp tended to participate by first articulating an "ideal" and then planning ways to achieve this, while the NP generally tended to look at what existed and at ways to re-order this (Louw, 1993).

Eventually the ANC decide to adopt the pluralist position. This view was then presented successfully to the multiparty CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) talks that started in September of 1991 (Barnett, 1998). The CODESA process finally led to the enactment of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act by the Transitional Executive Council in 1993. The IBA Act stated that the radio and television markets should be opened to free-to-air commercial competition; it also provided for decentralised community broadcasting and for the state broadcaster to be transformed into a public broadcaster. To this end the SABC itself started developing a new Vision and Values framework, which in 1996 was to culminated in a re-launch of a new-look SABC aimed at protecting local culture and reflecting reality from a unique local perspective (Teer-Tomaselli, 1998).

To what extent could the proposed changes to the South African broadcasting system, as formulated in the IBA Act, be seen as reactions to globalisation forces? In terms of Braman’s (1996) typology of localisation processes, the changes can be described as the start of a move away from a primary mode of localisation response (supportive of existing traditional structures) to a secondary mode of localisation response (more reflective of a modernistic environment). For example, the decisions to end the monopoly of the state broadcaster, to introduce privately owned commercial competitors to the public service monopoly, and to reduce the influence of the state on the media, mirrored to a large extent the secondary localisation steps that had been taken internationally in many types of industries as reactions to a specific economic and political global force, namely the global disintegration of the Fordist model of economic and political organisation (see Sinclair et al., 1996).

On the other hand the IBA Act, being a product of the political compromises of the negotiations that ended apartheid, still entrenched the rights of existing broadcasters (Barnett, 1998) and therefore did not advocate a complete and radical restructuring of the broadcasting industry. In terms of Figure 1 the proposed changes in the IBA Act represented a mandate for a "reform" response rather than for a "restructure" response to globalisation by the broadcasting industry. The SABC’s Vision and Value framework could, because of its stated aim of protecting local culture against external forces, be interpreted as a guideline for a "resist" response to globalisation.

The IBA’s Initiatives to Transform Broadcasting

The first significant step in the broadcasting reform process after the 1994 elections was the creation of the Independent Broadcasting Authority to oversee future transformation of broadcasting. Next, in 1994, this new independent regulatory body launched its Triple Inquiry, a consultative investigation that dealt with the matter of whether or not to impose local content quotas for South African television and radio, the protection of public broadcasting services, and cross media control of broadcasting services (IBA, 1995).

Throughout the inquiry the issue of local content quotas was the subject of considerable debate and criticism (Wigston, 1995): On the one hand broadcasters opposed quotas as being an undemocratic economic burden imposed on them, while the record industry and television production industries (the intended beneficiaries of the system) were in favour of such quotas.

This imposition of local television content quotas that was being considered could, because of the emphasis on the local as a cultural reference point within a modernistic environment, be described as a secondary localisation measure (Braman, 1996) taken in response to two types of globalisation forces impacting on television industries all over the world - a global cultural force and a global economic force. The cultural force involved was, according to the reasoning of cultural imperialist (Schiller, 1991; Roach, 1998) scholars, the expectation that a high percentage of foreign television programming in local broadcasts would lead to a loss of cultural identity among viewers. This cultural threat was especially relevant in the light of the high priority that decision makers in the African National Congress (ANC) had been giving since 1994 to the promotion of nation-building via the media, e.g. by means of symbolic representations of national unification and reconciliation (Barnett, 1998).

The global economic force was the market dominance of relatively cheap foreign television programming. For local broadcasters such as the SABC it was (and still is) up to twenty five times more expensive (Teer-Tomaselli, 1998; Mersham, 1998) to acquire a local television program for broadcasting than it was to import a program from the USA. This is not because South African local production costs of television programs are unduly high. In fact, local productions costs generally have been less than those of overseas production costs (Jack, 1997). The main reason for the difference in price is that the production costs of USA programs on offer to the international market have usually already been recovered in the USA, and consequently these programs can be exported at very cheap prices and still show a profit.

The IBA was therefore presented with a dilemma on how to react to globalisation forces. Should it react to the demands of global economic forces by allowing domestic television broadcasts to contain an unlimited amount of foreign programming content, thereby helping local broadcasters financially but damaging the local television production industry and possibly endangering the cultural identity of viewers? Alternatively, should the IBA rather react to the perceived cultural threat by applying measures restricting foreign content in local television broadcasts, thereby promoting local culture and hopefully also local content production, but adding to the financial burden of local broadcasters?

In the end the IBA decided to act upon the cultural threat posed by foreign television programming, and proposed that a detailed set of local content quotas should be imposed on broadcasters. What qualified as "local" was, for the purposes of the quotas, stipulated by means of an elaborate set definitions and provisions. [6] The recommendations that were finally approved in 1997 stated (DACST, 1997) that the SABC should phase in a 50% local content quota within five year for broadcasts in the 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot. For any new private television broadcasters that might be licensed in future, the quota would be 20% of local content in this time slot within two years of starting. The corresponding quota for the pay channel M-Net was 5% (but 20% for the first two unencoded or "open time" hours of this time-slot). These measures can be described as "resist" responses (see Figure 1) to cultural globalisation forces.

Two other major issues that were addressed by the Triple Inquiry were how much of the broadcasting market the SABC should be allowed to retain, and how the future SABC should be financed (Barnett, 1998). The IBA was, in globalisation terminology of Figure 1, looking for practical ways in which the Fordist model of economic and political organisation of the local broadcasting industry could be reformed.

In its submissions to the IBA the SABC argued that it should be the sole national public broadcaster, and that as it would be required to broadcast country-wide in all eleven official languages, it could not be scaled down to much. The SABC also asked to retain all of its existing commercial radio and television channels in order to subsidise the public broadcasts. However, most of the other submissions to the IBA wanted a smaller SABC so that there would be room for new commercial broadcasters. In addition an influential group of civil society organisations wanted, in stead of just one national public broadcaster, a number of provincial public broadcasters and community broadcasters, all broadcasting locally in the languages of their respective regions or audiences.

The initial IBA recommendations that were released in 1995 reflected a compromise between the different submissions. The SABC was proposed as the sole national public broadcaster, i.e. no provincial public broadcasters were envisaged. However, it was also recommended that the SABC should sell off one of its three television channels and eight of its commercial radio channels. An intense lobbying of Parliament by the SABC resulted in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications amending some recommendations (IBA, 1997). The Triple Inquiry Report was approved in 1996. The amended report included stipulations (DACST, 1997) that the SABC could retain all three of its television stations, and that it should sell six (not eight as originally proposed) commercial radio stations to the private sector. These amendments constituted a significant political rebuff for the IBA (Barnett, 1998). It was also approved that there should be three levels of broadcasting (public, private and community), and that provision must be made for a new commercial television station. Eventually this turned out to be the Midi-TV channel called, which started broadcasts in October 1998.

The next step in the broadcasting reform process was implementing the measures set out in the Triple Inquiry Report. For the SABC, 1996 was the year of many changes, starting in February with a re-launch of its three television channels. Now called SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3, each channel now broadcast to the nation as a whole rather than to separate white or black target audiences. Within six months this had resulted in a new audience profile characterised by fewer Afrikaans speaking viewers and a greater percentage of less affluent viewers (Barnett, 1998). The financial implications for the SABC’s advertising income were severely negative.

The financial crisis that was brewing within the SABC, was heightened by additional issues such as the increased cost of local content programming and the sell-off of six of the SABC’s most lucrative commercial radio stations to groups with significant "black empowerment" credentials. In 1997 an external financial review of the SABC led to the publishing of the McKinsey Report, resulting in major cutbacks in staff and reductions of in-house local productions. In order to survive the SABC was forced to adopt a more commercial approach and to rely more heavily on imported programs than before.

In the mean time, the South African television quota system had also not been functioning smoothly. In November 1997 the Department of Arts, Culture, Science & Technology (DACST) convened a conference to discuss broadcasting local content issues. Of particular concern were problems that were being experienced with the quota system. The IBA decision makers had hoped that the local content quotas would result in local television programs being screened more and becoming more popular than before. They had also hoped that the resulting larger audiences would then generate larger advertising income for broadcasters, which could then at least counter some of the higher costs for broadcasters of having to buy more local rather than foreign programs.

However, this had not happened. Many local programs were indeed very popular and were enjoying larger audiences than most overseas programs, but this had not resulted in the hoped-for larger advertising income. It transpired that advertisers preferred to advertise in imported programs rather than in local programs, even when local programs' audiences were larger. For example, on SABC3 in 1997 a single spot in the imported program Seinfeld cost R36000, but in the local program Muvhano it cost only a fraction of that, even though the latter program had almost twice the audience of the former (Mda, 1997). Advertisers were simply spending less on African language broadcasts which were apparently not seen as significant markets (Teer-Tomaselli, 1998). The SABC was already struggling to meet its local content quotas (DACST, 1997), and the unequal advertising income from local and overseas programs was aggravating the situation. After one year of broadcasting, the new commercial channel was also experiencing financial problems, and in October 1999 officially requested the IBA to lighten the channel’s local content broadcasting burden.

The Department of Communication’s Policy Process Initiative

In 1997 and 1998 the Department of Communication produced three documents - the Broadcasting Green Paper, the White Paper on Broadcasting Policy, and the Broadcast Bill (South Africa; 1997, 1998b & 1998a) - as part of a new Policy Process initiative that was aimed at providing a new framework for organising and regulating the South African broadcasting system. Under the leadership of Mr Jay Naidoo, the Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting, the new process signalled the start of what can be described in the globalisation terminology of Figure 1 as a "restructuring" response to global technological and economic forces. The process can, because of its emphasis on promoting an information society from a postmodern perspective, also be seen as a "tertiary" (Braman, 1996) type of localisation action.

The Policy Process initiative reflected several changes in government priorities when dealing with the broadcasting industry (Barnett, 1998). First, the new initiative brought with it a greater responsiveness to global technological forces, especially the convergence between telecommunications, information and broadcasting technologies. This led to measures aimed at merging aspects of the telecommunications and broadcasting industries, e.g. the two regulatory bodies. In turn this has meant that since 1997 broadcasting policy decisions have increasingly been affected by a telecommunications restructuring process that has been conducted in a less consultative and more state-controlled fashion than the broadcasting reform process (Horwitz, 1997). Broadcasting policy has also increasingly been seen by the government as part of a broader industrial and economic policy emphasising international competitiveness rather than cultural interests such as promoting national unity or identity.

By 1997 it was clear that the television industry was experiencing problems with regard to finding a way to make substantial use of foreign television programs without impacting negatively on issues such as the advertising revenue of local programs, the cultural identity of viewers, and the viability of the local television content production industry. As a result, the 1998 White Paper on Broadcasting Policy stipulated that the IBA must draw up a new plan for local content carriage by broadcasters, and that a new body, to be called the South African Broadcast Production Agency, must be formed to support and promote local content production.

The period between 1997 and 1999 was a difficult one for the IBA, for it was characterised by such severe tensions between the IBA and other role players in the broadcasting sector, that eventually the IBA’s legitimacy was being called into question. Apart from frustrations arising among broadcasters because of lengthy procedures for applications and hearings and because of problems experienced with the IBA’s local content quotas, the IBA was subjected to criticism on various fronts: This included criticism of the IBA’s handling of the granting of the licence for the new commercial television station in 1997, and criticism of the IBA’s handling of a 1997 dispute between the SABC and M-Net (Barnett, 1998). The SABC was particularly frustrated by the IBA’s inability to change M-Net’s licensing conditions relating to the daily "open time" (unencoded) broadcasting slot, the operating of a second M-Net channel without a proper license, and M-Net’s broadcasting of major sporting events in encoded form. To make matters worse for the IBA, allegations of financial mismanagement and of dissent within the IBA surfaced in the press and seriously harmed the body’s public image.

Another major problem for the IBA in this period was the rift that was developing between it and Minister Naidoo. The Policy Process was also increasingly resulting in a loss of influence for the IBA, and in a transfer of power to the Minister and to the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA). In January 1999 this conflict was highlighted by President Mandela refusing to sign the Broadcast Bill introduced to the National Assembly on the grounds that it transferred too much power to the Minister. An unexpected twist in this tale was that after the June 1999 elections Mr Jay Naidoo was replaced as Minister (of the new Communications Ministry) by Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. As the new Minister is someone with a definite interest in broadcasting – she was the first woman and black chairperson of the SABC Board (Mersham, 1998) – it will be interesting to see if the new appointment leads to any changes in the future official policy towards broadcasting in general or the IBA in particular. [7]

The emphasis that the Policy Process placed on global technological opportunities also focused the attention of broadcasters more on the possible advantages of television transmissions via satellite. This broadened the scope of the South African broadcasting debate to include the broadcasting interests of neighbouring countries. Ever since 1995, when the pay channel M-Net expanded its activities to include digital satellite broadcasts covering the whole of Africa (Soerensen, 1996), satellite broadcasting in South Africa had been dominated by the DStv satellite service provided through the distribution network company Multi-Choice. Multi-Choice (now Multi-Choice International Holdings [MIH]) had previously been part of M-Net, and one of the reasons cited for the split from M-Net was for it to function as an international commercial company that would not be subject to social obligations that the IBA might impose on broadcasters (Teer-Tomaselli, 1998). The SABC had also entered the satellite market with its free analogue AstraSat broadcasts in 1996 (SABC, 1996), but its efforts to attract a sizeable audience following, and to include pay channels as part of the AstraSat service, did not succeed (Van Tonder, 1996). Eventually, towards the end of 1998, the AstraSat service was discontinued.

Television broadcasters in neighbouring countries, such as the Lesotho Television Service, the Swaziland Broadcasting Corporation and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, were also not able to compete with the DStv satellite service. This meant that these transmissions from South Africa were now a source of regional cultural influence such as described by Tracey’s (1998) patchwork quilt model. Because these earlier DStv broadcasts to the outside world consisted almost exclusively of overseas-produced material (Mersham, 1998), the satellite transmissions could be seen in neighbouring countries not only as a potentially negative economic globalisation force from South Africa, but also as an indirect form of (mainly American) "cultural imperialism" (see Roach, 1998). One neighbouring broadcaster, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, resolved this issue by becoming part of the DStv bouquet of channels that could be received in Namibia.

Although the DStv satellite service had been much more successful financially within South Africa than AstraSat, the DStv broadcasts to the outside world initially featured mainly American entertainment (Soerensen, 1996) that did not typically reflect unique South African cultural features. These international broadcasts had therefore not become known, as was the case with the Brazilian broadcasts containing telenovelas (Sinclair et al., 1996; Straubhaar, 1997), as carriers of locally produced programs with an appeal to both local and certain foreign audiences. The DStv broadcasts did not have a local equivalent for the internationally popular telenovelas, which can be described (Straubhaar & LaRose, 1997) as a Latin American blend of soap opera, costume drama and situation comedy that – unlike North American soaps - have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Viewed as reactions to global technological forces, both the SABC’s and M-Net’s adoption of satellite technology as international broadcasting platforms had – up to 1998 - clearly not been an unqualified success. However, in November 1998 the SABC and Multi-Choice decided to settle past differences, and announced (SABC, 1998) that they were embarking on a joint initiative in which an increased amount of local programs would be broadcast via the DStv satellite service to audiences all over Africa. Since November 16, the three SABC channels (SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3) have regularly been broadcast as part of the DStv bouquet. Since then the digital satellite service has also been transmitting two additional SABC television channels called Africa 2 Africa, a 24 hour African entertainment channel, and SABC Africa, a 24 hour African news and information channel.

This new international co-operative venture between local commercial broadcasting rivals can be described as a "restructuring" response (see Figure 1) to globalisation. An obvious advantage of the venture was that the existing three SABC channels now had a much wider audience, and therefore a greater potential to generate income for the SABC and for the South African TV industry. Other recently introduced DStv channels beaming locally produced content to audiences in neighbouring states are Channel O Sound Television (a music channel), Summit TV (a business channel featuring largely women journalists reporting on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and on other business issues), and kykNET (an Afrikaans variety channel broadcasting since November 1999).

The one factor that makes this joint initiative unique and qualitatively different from previous broadcasts to neighbouring countries, is that for some of the new DStv channels, "local" content is defined as meaning "African" content, and not just "South African" content. For example, the Africa 2 Africa channel regularly features films made by African producers, and while these products usually cannot compete with imported American films in terms of technical quality, they have a local "African" appeal for African audiences. Similarly, SABC Africa is geared at being a vehicle that enables Africans to provide news about Africa for Africans, while Channel O Sound Television presents a variety of shows that feature music of black or African origin. This is expected to attract a relatively high viewership even in neighbouring states, for it has been shown that people prefer programs that are culturally close or familiar to them (Straubhaar, 1997; Mersham, 1998).

Because this joint satellite initiative reacts to globalisation on the basis of the "local" of some channels being a willed construct that is to be interpreted in a broader sense than merely the geographic borders of one country, the initiative is an example of a tertiary localisation action on a regional level. It is also an example of the regionalisation of television into a multi-country geo-cultural market (Straubhaar, 1997). While the approach does not directly address the financial concerns of rival broadcasters in neighbouring countries, it does create a new demand and market for the products and services of musicians, journalists, TV producers and film-makers of the neighbouring countries. In so doing, it goes some way in alleviating the economic and "cultural imperialist" concerns often associated with cross-border transmissions. This initiative is therefore seen as holding considerable promise for the future viability of South Africa’s local television production industry.


From the foregoing discussion it is evident that during the 1990s the television industry in South Africa has experienced a broadcasting transformation process that took place in three main phases. Although broadcasting policy changes taking place during each phase were largely determined by the demands of the country’s on-going process of political transition, it is evident that the increased exposure to a variety of global forces impinging on television industries world-wide also had an important influence on South Africa policy makers.

It was found that each of the three phases of the broadcasting transformation process was characterised by different types of responses by policy makers to different types of globalisation forces. For example, during the first phase, the broadcasting rethink that took place between 1990 and 1994, the global forces that policy makers were most concerned with were forces of a political and economic nature. Their responses to these forces were decisions that the television industry should in future be "reformed" (see Figure 1) in such a way that it acknowledged the importance of being in step with global trends, but without this leading to a radical restructuring of the existing broadcasting arena. This then led to legal stipulations aimed at transforming the state broadcaster to a public broadcaster and at opening up this public broadcaster to commercial competition. This first phase of broadcasting transformation can be described - In terms of Braman’s (1996) typology of localisation processes - as the start of a move away from a primary mode of localisation response supportive of existing traditional structures, to a secondary mode of localisation response reflective of a modernistic environment.

During the second phase, in which the IBA had to decide on the practicalities of how the proposed broadcasting changes should be implemented, policy makers were confronted with a choice between responding to the economic implications or to the cultural implications of having a high percentage of foreign television programs in domestic broadcasts. Eventually IBA policy makers opted to go on the defensive (a "resist" response to globalisation in terms of Figure 1) against the cultural threat that foreign programs were perceived to hold for viewers, and they institute local content television quotas on broadcasters. As this response emphasised the local as a cultural reference point within a modernistic environment, it be described as a secondary localisation measure (see Braman, 1996). Unfortunately however, it can be concluded that this measure was not very successful and that it resulted in a number of problems. In most cases these problems have in some way impacted negatively on the production of local television content.

During the third phase of broadcasting transition, the Policy Process initiated by the Department of Communication, policy makers were most responsive to the implications of global technological forces. It has resulted in "restructuring" types of responses to these forces, e.g. the merging of the telecommunications and broadcasting regulatory bodies (SATRA and the IBA). In this process there has been a policy shift that places more emphasis on economic priorities and industrial competitiveness, at the expense of cultural priorities such as promoting national identity among viewers. Decision were made mainly from a postmodern perspective that was aimed at promoting an information society, and the process can – in terms of the typology of Braman (1996) - therefore be classified as a tertiary localisation action.

If one takes into account the lessons learnt from the reactions to globalisation of other television industries world wide, it seems that television industries stand to benefit most if their policy makers attempt to respond pro-actively to opportunities offered by global technological forces such as satellite broadcasting. This is in agreement with the approach of the Policy Process, which could auger well for the future.

It is further contended that for any country’s television industry as a whole, the most successful responses to globalisation are broadcasting initiatives involving a relatively high proportion of local content in outward bound international television satellite transmissions. Up to 1998 this had not been the case with the South African satellite broadcasts. A recent (November 1998) joint initiative by the SABC and Multi-Choice has however resulted in an increased amount of local programs being broadcast via the DStv satellite service to neighbouring countries and the rest of Africa. This means that South African broadcasts now have a larger audience, and therefore a greater potential to generate income for the South African TV industry. It is a good example of what Straubhaar (1997) calls the regionalisation of television into a multi-country geo-cultural market.

Paradoxically, such cross-border satellite transmissions have the disadvantage that they could be experienced in neighbouring countries as being a negative globalisation force, both economically and culturally. The new joint DStv initiative has tried to counter this by defining the "local" content of some of the new DStv channels broadly as "African" content, and not only as "South African". In effect this has created a new potential market for the products and services of musicians, journalists, TV producers and film-makers of the neighbouring African countries. It is therefore concluded that this type of initiative holds much promise for the future of the South African television industry.


[1] Other definitions that depict globalisation as being mainly an economic process are: "the growing integration of international markets for goods, services and finance" (Banting, 1995. p. 2), and "the integration of economies throughout the world through trade, financial flows, the exchange of technology and information, and the movement of people" Ouattra (1997, p. 1). De Kock (1997, p. 7) similarly describes globalisation as an "economic meta-narrative". Morales-Gómez (1997, p. 2) lists a number of definitions that describe globalisation in terms of world-wide interaction of economic forces and agents (such as trade liberalisation, international flows of capital and foreign direct investment, integration of national markets, internationalisation of production, and increased movement of goods and services across borders): Examples from the list of globalisation definitions are: "a progression in economic integration", and "the rapid and pervasive diffusion around the globe of production, consumption, and investment of goods, services, technology and capital".

[2] Further examples of approaches like those of Robertson (1992) and Waters (1995) that consider globalisation to be a process that operates simultaneously on two levels, are Giddens’ (1990) description of globalisation as being both a reflexive social process as well as a concrete process, and to a lesser extent Harvey’s (1989) view of globalisation as being mainly an experiential process centring around time-space compression. Braman’s (1996) concept of interpenetrated globalisation also involves two types of processes (those operating from the whole to the parts and those operating from the parts to the whole) as being mutually constitutive. According to this view, local and global not only co-exist, but have become part of each other.

[3] The fear has even been expressed that globalisation could have such a negative impact on jobs in all types of industries that eventually it will lead to a so called 20:80 society where only 20% of the workforce is needed (Martin & Schumann, 1997). However, writers such as Paul Hirst, Robert Taylor and Linda Weiss regard this fear as being unfounded (Gillespie, 1998).

[4] Examples of regionalist (cross-border) type of localisationreactions to globalisation that usually benefit all states in the region, are calls for establishing economic region-states (Eger, 1996) and for other forms of organisational integration at a regional level (Chasia, 1997). Also relevant is the statement of German Chancellor Dr Helmut Kohl: "the answer to globalisation is Europeanisation" (Gillespie, 1998, p. 1). Banting (1995) states that the trend towards regionalism and the emergence of regional trading blocks usually reflect political choices to counter competition from outside the region, but that in some cases regionalism may reflect the political dominance of a local hegemony.

[5] Braman (1993; 1996, 1997; 1998) originally distinguished between three stages, but more recently (Braman, 1999) between four stages, in the development of the information society: Stage 1 (1840-1900) had to do with the electrification of communications, as well as the building of global information infrastructures (round 1) and the autonomy of information and communication industries. The turn of the century saw the start of the massification of communications, the professionalisation of the information profession, commodification of the fact, and internationalisation of "free flow". Stage 3 (starting in the 1960s) included the convergence of technologies, the building of global information infrastructures (round 2), the emergence of the hyper-real, and the politicisation of informational class lines. The current (4th) stage is the harmonisation of systems. This includes harmonising systems (a) of like kind across national borders, (b) of one type of communication system with another type of communication system, (c) of communication and information systems with other types of social systems, and (d) the convergence of digital information technologies with genetic information technologies. Many scholars prefer the wording informatisation ofsociety to the term information society (see Webster, 1996, p. 217). During the mid seventies and early eighties there were also calls – especially from UNESCO sources - for a New World Information and Communication Order, involving a global redistribution of information resources that would be more beneficial to the so called "non-aligned" nations" (Galtung & Vincent, 1995).

[6] Section 53 of the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act (South Africa, 1996) gives a very detailed and specific meaning to the concept of "local television content". It firstly excludes transmissions of sport events, advertisements, teletext and continuity announcements. To qualify as a local program, it has to be produced by either broadcasting licensee, or by a person who is a citizen of and permanently resident in South Africa, or by a legal entity of whom the majority of members are South African citizens resident in the country. In co-productions South Africans have to have at least a fifty percent financial interest, and a prescribed percentage of the production costs have to be incurred in the Republic. The IBA’s local television content regulations of 1997 expand on these requirements and state that a minimum of 50% of the leading actors, 75% of the supporting cast, and 50% of the crew should be South African, and that the post-production should be done wholly in the country.

It is evident that these stipulations on local content encompass all four dimensions of "the local", as set out by Braman (1996): Firstly, the geographic dimension is prominent in all stipulations that refer to citizenship of South Africa (as constituted by the boundaries of the nine new provinces that came into being after the 1994 elections). The many requirements relating to what type of people have to be involved in the production process further underscore the role of the locus (site of human agency) in determining what is local. Third, the IBA regulations state that the local programming should be identifiably South African and that it should recognise the diversity of cultural backgrounds in South African society – a clear reference to the cultural and historical requirements (locale) for local programming. Finally, the provisions dealing with co-productions consider those conditions that are reproducible elsewhere (location), and state which are required for a production to qualify as local programming.

[7] During November 1999, in what could be the first salvo of a new power struggle between broadcasting and telecommunication interests, the management and general functioning of SATRA were criticised so severely in the findings of both the government’s portfolio committee on communication and the so-called "Gobodo" report, that even the merging of SATRA and the IBA has publicly been called into question.


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