Rethinking media diversity policy on the community press in South Africa

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5 Citations (Scopus)


It has been well acknowledged by historians of South African media that the country had a vibrant grassroots community press under apartheid, which declined with the advent of democracy. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has supported media diversity in its media policy and has also criticised the supposedly anti-transformative nature of mainstream agenda-setting press. It has called for a range of measures to counteract this problem, including media diversity and intensified support for community media. However, apart from the establishment of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), in its practices in government, the ANC has adopted a market-driven approach to the development of the sector, leaving questions of market structure to the Competition Commission and Tribunal. Evidence from the community press suggests that this approach, which amounts to an adaptation to neoliberalism, but with a public service top-up, is inadequate to the task of realising diversity. As a result, the community press is facing deep crisis. The article will then consider why the ANC has adopted an incoherent, even contradictory approach to press diversity, and what policy measures are needed to encourage the sorts of vibrant community press that a democratic South Africa needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-443
Number of pages21
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015


  • African National Congress
  • South African media
  • community press
  • media concentration
  • media diversity
  • media transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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