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Zambian media in transition: Media reforms in an economic and political context

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The history and development of the Zambian media has been intertwined with the process of democratization in the country. This article uses the theories of transitology and political economy of communication to analyse the relationship between media reforms and the democratic process. Since 1991, the trajectory of the Zambian media has been presented in the shadow of the political and economic factors at play during the transition to democracy. As part of the democratic transition, political elites promised media reforms, but subsequent developments have made the media increasingly more a prisoner of the political and economic realities, where the state retains control over the media. The government employs rhetoric to create an illusion of media reforms by repeatedly promising to privatize state-owned media. This article therefore argues that even if economic factors exert great influence on the democratic transition in Zambia, the state continues to be a key player in shaping the media industry in the country. It further argues that some of the causes of this stalled transition are historical factors imbedded in the problem of recycled leadership.
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Keywords: Zambia; freedom; media; political economy; privatization; transition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Johannesburg

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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