Call for Chapter Proposals: Media Ownership in Africa: Control, Challenges & Change

19th February 2018

Who owns the media in Africa? Does the old adage “He who pays the piper calls the tune” apply in Africa today when describing ownership and control of media, ICTs and communication tools? Can we really talk about a clear power structure that can be reduced to those who own, and thus have power over the media, and those who do not own, and thus have no or less control over the flow/usage of information and communication? This is a call for book chapter proposals which is responsive to ongoing global and technological changes that are having an impact on mass media ownerships, economics, regulations, operations, structures, performance and thus creating shifts in the whole political structure of the continent. The call invites analysis of existing and emerging patterns of media ownerships in Africa. It seeks to investigate global, national and local media and communication operations across the continent; south and north alike. The term media here is used in the converged sense to include both ‘old’ and ‘new’ platforms, covering mobile phones, computer games and emerging spaces on the internet as well as on demand applications and illegal sites/hacks besides the traditional print and audio-visual platforms. Ruling elites tend to monopolize and use the media to sustain their power but this does not go unchallenged anymore. Groups and individuals outside power, seeking opportunities to publicize, mobilize against injustices or to just use media in an everyday practice that might upset/cloud the power structure have emerged as effective counter-powers directly challenging established state controls.

The popular protests in Burundi, Egypt, Ivory coasts, Kenya, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Tunisia, and other African countries, indicated that media ownership is directly linked to lack of coverage of key public issues. The protests were supported by alternative media groups whose ownership revealed new trends in creative counter communications that have the potential to change the face of the continent. Such trends could have an impact on freedom of the media and expression. According to Reporters Without Borders, in 2016, Africa (excluding North Africa) came second in rankings on the most improved media environments. Namibia was not far from Norway and Sweden and ahead of Britain in the most improved press freedom environment in the world. In 2016 it ranked 17 and dropped to 24 in 2017 validating the unpredictable state of media landscapes in the region.

The increased role of global new media players in Africa invites a rethinking of the relationship of media and power. “State capture” and “media capture” are becoming common across Africa as political and economic elites intensify their control on the media. To some extent this has led to nationalist right wing politics. Civic, community, as well as independent/private media organisations are significant counter powers but even these have struggled with sustainability.  Emerging alternative groups have had to use ICTs to form new media platforms that speak truth to power. China started to play an increasing role in the continent. Diasporas have their own role in shaping media content in & about Africa. Many other powers have a stake in the media and communication industries so how do they overlap, co-exist, balance/reduce each other?

In Nigeria, the 2015 defeat of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan by General Muhammadu Buhari put bold questions on the role played by media ownership in political transitions. In South Africa, the #RhodesMustFall protests on the legacy of apartheid, against Cecil Rhodes’s statute and broadly against maladministration has been enhanced by hashtags. Joined by Zimbabwe’s call for the exhumation and repatriation of Rhodes’ body to the United Kingdom, the protests transcended borders and official media silences. It became a wider issue as shown by the #FeesMustFall which was about access to education. In Morocco, the government keeps a firm grip on media platforms via regulations despite privatisation. Such grip is constantly challenged by new media technologies and publicized hacks forcing the government into a faster democratic transition. The U-turn in the state-owned Herald newspaper headlines post President Mugabe’s “disposal/resignation” in Zimbabwe testifies for the murky yet agile state of journalism and media usage in the continent.

Media ownership has been far from transparent and yet it is significant for our grasp of power structures and social change in the field of transnational media and globalisation. Diverse and plural media ownership could help stem authoritarianism and right-wing politics. The question about who owns the media in Africa is therefore urgent as part of the calls for social justice and open democracy globally and as a beacon to map the new state of media and technology in an evolving continent.

Our questions/themes of interest:

–      Media and state capture in Africa

–      Local, national and glocal ownership of media in Africa

–      Regulation, policies and laws for media ownership in Africa

–      Controls, censorship and media ownership in Africa

–      Shifts in media ownership & implications for democratisation

–      The role of economic and political ruling classes in media ownership and power

–      The agency of individuals, marginalized groups in challenging media conglomerates

–      Case studies of media ownership countries or media platforms focusing on shifts in ownership or/and usage and analysing implications locally and/or globally

–       The role of the state, the market and civil society in media ownership.

–       Alternative media ownership.

–      Comparative analysis of media ownerships: locally and regionally

–      Transnational ownership in Africa

–      Diasporic media ownership and their influence

–      Emerging trends and patterns of cross media ownership and concentration

–      Media performance, content and ownerships

–      Media ownership in the age of right-wing politics, authoritarianism and right-wing politics.

–      Media pluralism and diversity projects in Africa

–      Foreign aid and Media development in Africa

Deadlines:

We invite submissions of 250-300 words chapter proposals. Deadline: 30 May 2018. Submissions should also include:

  1. Title of chapter
  2. Author name/s, institutional details
  3. Corresponding author’s email address
  4. Keywords (no more than 5)
  5. A short bio (Maximum 100 words)

Commissioned chapters will be around 5,000 words. Accepting an abstract does not guarantee the publication of the final manuscript. Once the book proposal is approved, all chapters will be subject to a double-blind reviewing process

The deadline for submitting your abstracts is 30 May 2018.

Full chapters due: 31-08-2018

Abstracts and questions should be addressed to Dr. Loubna El Mkaouar:

elmkaolo@westminster.ac.uk

Book Edited by: Winston Mano and Loubna El Mkaouar (The Africa Media Centre, The Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), University of Westminster and the Ghana Institute of Journalism, to be published by Routledge.

We look forward to your submissions.

Please circulate.

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