'Modernization' or cultural imperialism and dependency through media aid? : a case study of television in Sudan
The establishment of television in one of the world's "least developed" countries, the
Sudan, was almost entirely a West German venture. The lion's share of the necessary
equipment, training and "expert" personnel for the national channel, the Sudan Television
Service (STV), and the Gezira Rural Educational Television (RTV) was provided
by the Federal Republic of Germany's technical aid, which also played a major role
in the maintenance of both services over a long period (nearly two decades in the case
The decision to undertake a case study of these two 'aid' projects was initially prompted
by the shortage of studies examining the impact of "media aid" (usually supplied as
parts of technical aid programmes) on the 'aid'-receiving countries. The following questions
essentially remained unanswered: Put in very simple terms, could media aid be
shown to keep the promises of the 'aid' -suppliers, namely that media aid in general,
and television in particular, would contribute to the well-being of the receiving country
and its population? Or was it more likely - as some authors insisted - to increase or
consolidate various forms of dependence and act as a cultural imperialist agent7 Were
such 'aid'-projects entirely altruistic ventures, as tended to be claimed by their suppliers,
or could they, rather, be shown to be primarily self-interested? Could television, and
rural educational television in particular, be shown to be conducive to promoting
"modernization", as not only the 'aid'-supplying countries but also Unesco-publications
had long claimed, and what exactly was meant by "modernization"?
This thesis will attempt to provide answers to these questions by reference to STV and
RTV as German 'aid' projects. Both were explicitly put in the service of "modernization"
not only by the 'aid' administration but also by the respective Sudanese governments.