Since 1990 Zambia has witnessed a dramatic enlargement of its media landscape. The emergence of cable and satellite television, private radio stations and an independent national press have been cornerstones in this development. Paralleled by a boom in information and communication technologies, this liberalisation-cum-globalisation has opened up a new space of popular culture and leisure activity. While Zambian youth, especially in Lusaka, are ‘confronted' with a media-driven global (youth) culture, the processes of meaning making through which they appropriate local, national, South African, other African and global media are still shaped by the particular conditions of everyday-life. In my paper, which is based on field research in Lusaka in October/November 2004, I will present some of the findings of my interview-based and observational investigation into the media uses of Lusaka youth. A special focus will be on: (1) Isidingo, the most popular TV serial (of South African origin) offered by the national broadcaster ZNBC, and one of the few terrestrial TV programs which attract a substantial audience amongst local youth; (2) the Pentecostal Trinity Broadcasting Network, which is the only transnational channel available terrestrially and popular with a growing number of (young) members of the Pentecostal Church; (3) commercial radio channels, which are produced in Lusaka and which are more specifically youth-oriented than other media. The central question I will take up for consideration, against these local-global sites of media production and consumption, is the potential of entertainment-based formats in reaching and communicating with youth. All three sites address questions of HIV/Aids, though they approach the issue rather different format-wise and in terms of discourse. For young people the challenge is to work through the often contradictory ‘messages' of the media they are confronted with. This challenge I will explore in terms of media literacy and empowerment.
Main Research Area:
Internationalising Media Studies: Imperatives and Impediments, 2006