South Africa profile

Newspaper vendor in South Africa The Zulu-language newspaper Ilanga has been published for more than a century

South Africa is the continent's major media player, and its broadcasters and press reflect the diversity of its people.

Established state-run and commercial TV broadcast nationally, and hundreds of thousands of viewers subscribe to satellite and cable. South Africa-based MultiChoice markets satellite pay-TV in dozens of African countries.

Listeners in Johannesburg alone can choose from among dozens of radio stations, from the national broadcasts of the state-owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to community stations targeting local neighbourhoods or ethnic groups.

The constitution provides for freedom of the press, and this is generally respected. Laws, regulation and political control of media content are considered to be moderate and there is little evidence of repressive measures against journalists.

However, critics have said a proposed Protection of State Information Bill is an attempt to stifle investigative journalism. The bill sets out harsh prison terms for people who leak state secrets. There are concerns that the bill does not allow journalists to use the public interest as grounds for revealing classified information.

Newspapers and magazines publish reports and comment critical of the government, and the SABC is far more independent now than during the apartheid era. However, the corporation has been plagued by scandals, high-level resignations, and a financial crisis.

There were 6.8 million internet users at the end of 2010 - nearly 14% of the population (via Internetworldstats.com). The use of mobile phones to access the internet is driving the growth in web access. Local instant messaging service MXit is the most popular social media platform, followed by Facebook. YouTube is available in Afrikaans and Zulu.

The press

Television

  • SABC - state broadcaster, operates three national TV networks, two pay-TV channels
  • e.tv - free-to-air, commercial; also operates news network eNCA
  • M-Net - pay-TV, pan-African audience

Radio

  • SABC - state broadcaster with 20 regional and national services in 11 languages, including: national English-language network SAfm; contemporary music station 5 FM; national Afrikaans station Radio Sonder Grense; national Zulu station Ukhozi FM; Sesotho station Lesedi FM
  • Channel Africa - SABC's pan-African external radio
  • YFM - popular Johannesburg commercial R&B, soul and hip-hop station
  • 702 Talk Radio - Johannesburg commercial news and talk station

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