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Economy, Communications

Sowetan, Cape Times, business circles, majority government, independent radio stations

South Africa has a sophisticated communications network, although it is not equally accessible to all people. Radio ownership is, however, almost universal. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) provides 23 radio services for national and regional audiences and specific language groups. Some 14 million listeners tune in daily to these services. There are also two independent radio stations.

The SABC offers three television channels in 11 languages. There are 134 licensed television sets for every 1,000 people in South Africa, and the daily audience is about 11 million, about one-quarter of the population. The majority of African households do not have television, although it is widely watched in bars. The SABC was subject to close government control under apartheid, but now reflects a wider spectrum of political views. The government is much less intrusive in the media than during the apartheid years. The emphasis is on the rights of the individual rather than the protection of community norms and standards.

There are 17 daily and 12 weekly newspapers. Their political allegiances are less narrowly defined than in the apartheid era, with even the more conservative papers giving at least critical support to the country’s first majority government. Most of the papers are published in English. Only three Sunday papers—the Sunday Times, Rapport (published in Afrikaans), and the Sunday Independent are truly national in circulation. All three are published in Johannesburg. The Sunday Tribune, published in Durban, and the City Press, published in Johannesburg, are also important. Regional dailies are published in all major cities. In Johannesburg those with the largest circulation include the Sowetan, targeted at black readers, along with The Star and The Citizen. Die Burger, an Afrikaans paper, and two English papers, The Argus and the Cape Times, are published in Cape Town. The Daily News is published in Durban. Smaller influential papers include the daily Business Day, the weekly Financial Mail, and the relatively left-wing weekly, Mail and Guardian, all published in Johannesburg.

South Africa has two-fifths of the telephone lines in Africa, with 114 lines for every 1,000 inhabitants. Telkom Ltd., a telecommunications company, is South Africa’s second largest industrial company, currently state-owned. Electronic mail and the Internet are widely used in business circles, and Telkom has entered the market as an Internet service provider.

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