This paper discusses the concept of delegated media regulation within the context of broadcasting in South Africa. It briefly discusses the history of media regulation during the apartheid period; the transformation of broadcasting media from an authoritarian government, to a liberalised media, the impact of the transformation with regards to internal media policies; focusing mostly in broadcasting media policy. The paper will then discuss the formation of independent regulatory agencies by government as delegated bodies; to monitor broadcasting media. These include the Independent Broadcasting Act of 1993 (IBA), the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) and the merger to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA), and the existence of the Media Diversity and Development Agency (MDDA). In discussing these bodies, the paper will look at the role played by these organisations in regulating broadcasting media, and the impact they have in the development and monitoring of broadcasting media.
Apartheid affected every single aspect of South Africa, including the media. Laws that regulated the media were tailor-made to restrict freedom of expression and subject the media to the extremes of the apartheid government. Before the rise of democracy, South Africa showed essential features of aristocracy; which consisted of whites, Indians and coloured people nominated to the legislative assembly. The ideology of apartheid brought division among the South African society along racial lines. The divisions in society and domination of the majority by the minority were reflected in policy formulation; which included stipulations that restricted the media (Fourie, 2004: 168). This was evident as the government exercised its powers in the broadcasting media. When the SABC was established in parliament, it was said to be the public broadcaster; but this was not the case. Because of political philosophies related to the political values of the society and those in power at the time, the SABC was the state broadcaster and not a public broadcaster; and as a result was said to be the apartheid state’s most powerful propaganda tool Dennis Jjuuko (2005: 3).
According to Jjuuko “The assumption to political power by the National Party in 1948 meant the Afrikanerisation of the SABC, which was achieved largely through controls of the board.” Jjuuko continues to say that during this time the SABC had to play a “significant role in the politics of the day, with no space to make independent editorial decisions.” This particularly had a negative impact on the importance on the SABC’s internal policies. As a result the SABC was referred to as “his master’s voice”, as it gave the government a platform to articulate the apartheid ideology, to control the people of South Africa; particularly blacks.
In support of this argument, one of the main laws that restricted media freedom was the one that reduced the broadcast/publication of activities of anti-government black groups. Fourie (2004) argues that from the apartheid laws “one can deduce that the public interest was very narrowly defined. (That) Many laws/policies of …