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Digital Readiness in a Digital Revolution: How is community radio responding to digital transformation in the changing broadcast environment of South Africa?

15 pagesPublished: June 16, 2024


New media and innovations in digital technologies have fundamentally changed the way people use media, access information and source entertainment. The purpose of this study is to examine the response to digital changes and innovations in the broadcast environment from the vantage point of the Community radio sector in South Africa. Over the past 30 years, Community radio in South Africa has been a growing and established sector, however, today's digital transformation has brought opportunities and disruption to an ever-changing broadcast landscape.
This thesis is broadly located within the discourse and theoretical framework of community, convergence, the public sphere and the political economy. These theories inform the study on how community radio is responding to the bringing together of different media, increasing audience involvement and listener participation and the utilisation of digital resources across urban and rural-based stations.
This study is aligned with the constructivist paradigm, where the researcher sought to engage in selected real-life situations with four (4) community radio stations located in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo. The basis of this research is derived from fieldwork, interaction with community radio staff, management and engagement with sector stakeholders. The case studies were conducted using a mixed methods approach qualitatively over two years (2018-2019). Methods included face-to-face interviews, questionnaires, direct observation and training workshops. The empirical materials draw upon three interconnected areas: production and content creation; social media and audience relations; listening patterns and transmission within the sampled community radio stations.
The study shows there have been substantial changes from traditional broadcasting and analogue technology in production, content creation, audience participation, consumption patterns and dissemination of content. The study concludes digital technologies have altered the relationship between on-air presenters and audience members to include immediacy and interactivity, in anytime and anywhere broadcasting. Evidence collected shows social media and audience participation have elevated audiences from passive listeners to active consumers. Changes in On-air Studios and adapting to digital innovations are gaining traction and reach within the community radio broadcast environment. Although radio transmission and programme consumption have been altered by convergence, it seems that terrestrial broadcasts and listening to radio devices remain the preferred choice by broadcasters and audience members respectively.

Keyphrases: Broadcasting, Community Radio, convergence, Digital innovations, Digital Transformation, keywords

In: Hossana Twinomurinzi, Nkosikhona Msweli, Sibukele Gumbo, Tendani Mawela, Emmanuel Mtsweni, Peter Mkhize and Ernest Mnkandla (editors). Proceedings of the NEMISA Digital Skills Summit and Colloquium 2024, vol 6, pages 149--163

BibTeX entry
  author    = {Reginald Fick},
  title     = {Digital Readiness in a Digital Revolution: How is community radio responding to digital transformation in the changing broadcast environment of South Africa?},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the NEMISA Digital Skills Summit and Colloquium 2024},
  editor    = {Hossana Twinomurinzi and Nkosikhona Theoren Msweli and Sibukele Gumbo and Tendani Mawela and Emmanuel Mtsweni and Peter Mkhize and Ernest Mnkandla},
  series    = {EPiC Series in Education Science},
  volume    = {6},
  pages     = {149--163},
  year      = {2024},
  publisher = {EasyChair},
  bibsource = {EasyChair,},
  issn      = {2516-2306},
  url       = {},
  doi       = {10.29007/vzzf}}
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