Publisher: Intellect Books

The Politics of Broadcasting, Language Policy and Democracy In Uganda

Monica B. Chibita
KEYWORDS: African languages, broadcasting, diversity policy, politics, radio, Uganda

ABSTRACT:

This article examines the interweaving between socio-political history, broadcast policy and regulation, and political participation. Although the article primarily discusses the Ugandan situation, it draws conclusions that could be helpful in examining similar situations in Africa and in other parts of the world. The research was conducted in Uganda in three phases over three years (2003–2006) and additional research was conducted between 2007 and 2008. 1 The first phase of the research constituted a socio-historical analysis of Uganda’s media and politics. The second phase focused on the language debate in Uganda and the final phase sought to interpret the Ugandan language debate in light of the findings from the socio-historical analysis. The article is conceived within a critical media studies framework and the methodology is inspired by J.B. Thompson’s (1990) depth hermeneutics. The study employed qualitative interviews and an analysis of media, communication and education policy documents and other archival sources to elicit information at various levels on indigenous language broadcasting policy in Uganda. Placing the debate on indigenous language policy in historical context made it possible to critically examine the relationship between language policy and political participation in Uganda. The article concludes that effective future policy and regulation must strike a balance between the priorities of government, media proprietors and audiences. It must also take cognizance of current commercial realities, while being sensitive to the socio-historical factors that determine attitudes towards the use of specific languages in the media.



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