Radio & development : access and uses of the radio public sphere by rural Baganda women
This thesis examines ways in which radio stations serve the development 'needs' of
rural Baganda women in Uganda. The thesis argues that a new participatory public
sphere has been created in Uganda with the rise of commercial radio stations, with
important implications for social development. These conclusions are drawn from an
analysis of media liberalisation and globalisation in Uganda, informed by
communication development theories and the theory of the Public Sphere.
The thesis, examines the African Public sphere and the way that Uganda's vibrant oral
culture has fostered the rapid expansion of radio services in the region. It unpacks
'development' as a concept, exploring its relationship to radio services in Africa and
Uganda in particular. The thesis concludes that as part of the push for 'development',
media liberalisation has led to haphazard licensing of radio frequencies with no proper
spectrum planning. It has also seen the growing influence of commercial radio
stations like Radio Simba.
Using content analysis of the programme schedules of Radio Simba and the publicly
funded Radio Uganda, the thesis examines the quality and nature of radio
programmes available to rural Baganda women. Drawing on interviews and
participant observation with radio producers and government representatives, it
concludes that in places like Uganda, where national broadcasters are too close to
governments, their public service role is limited. The thesis asserts that Radio Simba
partly fills this role.
U sing focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, the study goes on to examine
the access and uses of radio by rural Baganda women for development. It concludes
that rural communities use radio to inform, enhance farming practices, health
promotion and human rights campaigns. Radio also has a 'psychosocial' purpose,
enabling a redefining of Ugandan identity through music and 'local' programming.
The thesis ends by describing some of the moral panic created as a result of the
presence of this new global public sphere in Uganda, and the limited nature of
Ugandan academic debate about the changing nature of public service broadcasting.