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Historia

On-line version ISSN 2309-8392

Abstract

WIEDERROTH, Nicole. Radio broadcasting for blacks during the Second World War: "It could be dangerous ..". Historia [online]. 2012, vol.57, n.2, pp. 104-149. ISSN 2309-8392.

One year after the Union of South Africa declared war on Germany in 1939, the South African government began to use radio broadcasting to a black target group as a medium for propaganda. In the winter of 1940, the Department of Native Affairs (DNA), responsible for transmitting propaganda to blacks, together with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the Department for Post and Telegraphs, launched the first broadcasting service for blacks in Johannesburg. The broadcast, which was initially only transmitted via telephone lines, differed considerably from the broadcast for whites. Based on extensive archival research, this article describes the conception and implementation of that broadcasting service along with the specific programming the DNA and the SABC introduced for black listeners. Because it includes enquiries on the reception of the service at that time, this article offers new insights into South African media history. The broadcasting service for blacks during the Second World War clearly reflected the white producers' stereotypical conception of blacks. It was designed to assert the hegemonic position of the white minority and legitimise and help to maintain the colonial order. However, the black audience did not prove to be the passive, grateful recipients of carefully selected information that producers expected them to be. Instead, several independent enquiries on audience response to the broadcasting service, for example from the Bantu News Service Committee of the Witwatersrand and the Sub-Committee of the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), suggested a rather critical response from the target audience.

Keywords : Second World War; Department of Native Affairs; South African Broadcasting Corporation; radio; propaganda; segregation; colonial order; racism; media history..

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