n Communicatio : South African Journal of Communication Theory and Research - An evaluation of SAfm as a public service broadcaster : radio and television

Volume 25, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 0250-0167



I attempt to provide an analysis and evaluation of SAfm as a public service broadcaster. A public service broadcaster is entrusted with the task of informing, educating and entertaining the public in an objective, holistic and impartial manner. The duty of public service broadcasters is to empower their audiences in terms of helping them understand their contexts and democratic rights. The findings of this report reveal that the station is established on hierarchical, bureaucratic structures whereby policy makers determine the structure and programming schedules of the station to match the needs and interests of a hypothetical audience. There is a great deal of tension between those in administrative and management positions and the actual production staff. The production staff at SAfm seem to be geared towards contextualising their programmes, while administrators and managers are convinced that SAfm is a nation-building station. They go so far as to impose a national identity on the public. This is purely idealistic as the real conditions of the South African public are not taken into account in a fully contextualised manner. This condition is severely limiting in terms of promoting and understanding cultural diversity and creativity in society. The station focuses almost exclusively on national issues, leaders and celebrities. There is no provision for promoting local cultures and issues which in reality have greater relevance to the lives of the majority of South Africans. SAfm has a serious shortage of staff and for this reason research cannot be carried out at full capacity. Local events are often neglected because the station is weak on contextualising various local stories. Research facilities need to be drastically improved and more well-trained staff from a variety of diverse contexts need to be employed in order to handle this crisis.

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