Executive overstretch: South african broadcasting independence and accountability under thabo mbeki

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6 Citations (Scopus)


In this article I examine the extent of the South African broadcasting sector's independence and accountability since Thabo Mbeki became president in 1999. I trace how the independence of two institutions–the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)–has been eroded over this period. While initially the government justified this erosion as being necessary to attain developmental objectives in the context of a globalising economy, more lately there have been attempts to justify greater state control of content. Icasa has been subjected to greater direct executive control, and there are attempts to intensify this control, while the executive exercises indirect control over the SABC. Greater accountability to the state has been accompanied by a decline in public accountability. I conclude by arguing that the experiences with Icasa and the SABC give credence to the argument made by several international NGOs that media freedom in South Africa is declining, in spite of official protestations to the contrary. I also argue that this control has damaged the integrity of these institutions, and that this integrity must be restored now that Mbeki's presidency is coming to an end.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-52
Number of pages32
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Broadcasting independence
  • Icasa
  • Media freedom
  • Sabc
  • South african media
  • Thabo mbeki

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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