Rethinking Media Policy in Anglophone Sub-Saharan Africa:The Challenge of Community Media

© Media Watch 8 (2) 270-286, 2017
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
DOI: 10.15655/mw/2017/v8i2/49013

Rethinking Media Policy in Anglophone Sub-Saharan Africa: The Challenge of Community Media

Covenant University, Nigeria
This article draws on the challenges confronting community media in South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria to propose a ‘rethink’ in media policy conception and the political processes for policy-making. It suggests an ‘ethical-political’ policy model as best suited to the contribution of community media towards sophistication in media policy discourse in the twenty-first century. The article locates community media within the conceptual framework of ‘alternative journalism’ and the scholarly debates about ‘shapers’ of media policy decisions. The empirical data are drawn from oral interviews conducted between 2011 and 2014. The study concludes, firstly, that African governments and media regulators need to quickly redress the pressures on community media to improve their effectiveness as policy activists. Secondly, the challenge of community media to media policy requires a revision of the conceptual, social, and political frameworks for media policy-making along the ‘ethical-political’ logic to make them more integrative and sophisticated. And thirdly, the contribution of community media requires greater public and academic acknowledgement. These issues are considered from the sociological and philosophical perspectives and only in relation to community press and broadcasting media.
Keywords: Community media, alternative journalism, activism, rethinking, media policy, access, and Participation
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Dr. Patrick E. Okon is a lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. He holds a doctorate degree on media policy and alternative journalism from the Edinburgh Napier University (Scotland) and two Masters Degrees in Pastoral Communication and Film Studies from University of Calabar (Calabar) and University of St. Andrews (Scotland), respectively. His research interests include media and society (particularly policy and alternative media interface), development communication, broadcast journalism, media and religion interface, and film theory and criticism.