Across Africa, not many industries have played as important a role in their communities as local news platforms throughout South Africa’s large regions and provinces. Regional broadcasters had a direct line to their communities in an era where South Africans were hooked to screens for the latest “family meeting” on the Covid-19 pandemic, helping grasp, absorb, and make sense of the new reality.
Many people in Africa still prefer to get their news in their preferred language, with most people only getting their information from one broadcast source. Regional broadcasters play a role in this. People can get their news in their language, while others use it for enjoyment, pleasure, and a break from daily life stresses.
For example, Soweto TV, situated in Gauteng province, is one such television channel. “It’s been a challenging year”, said Soweto TV’s Programmes Manager, Mandla Ncinitwa. “The newsroom saw a high number of infections early in the pandemic, and as a tiny business, it had a significant impact on the team. However, they did not miss any announcements, which demonstrates the staff’s dedication.”
Keeping in mind is that at this time, the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Soweto locals turned to local television for local news and updates on what was going on at local clinics. Therefore, local transmission was critical because the community needed to know what was going on.