'Media access in the Third World': A case study of a Jordanian radio program

By Muhammad Ayish - 1990

Although access to channels of communication has been an important issue in national and international communication, it has rarely been addressed as such in an exclusively Third World context. Research about media in the Third World seems to perpetuate a mostly obsolete image regarding the current situations of communication systems in those countries. With respect to the question of access, the dominant notion governing our thinking of Third World media reflects an elitist public institutional control over access to those media. Such notion is usually criticized for being wholistic and incapable of accounting for the specific differences characterizing different media systems around the world.

Taking the daily Jordanian call-in radio program "Direct Broadcasting (DB)" as a case study, the author sought to examine how public access to this program seems to reverse some of our conventional perceptions of Third World media. Although the results of the study showed a good number of DB segments to be dominated by actors associated with public institutions, private citizens were also involved in the program. While the involve\ment of public sector actors was receptive (as targets of phone calls), private citizens accessed the program as initiators of information.

The study also found that the majority of calls broadcast over the program was on developmental subjects pertaining to the daily needs of citizens. The study also revealed that the role of DB broadcasters has been facilitative or inactive in a good number of cases rather than active or interrogative.

The main conclusion of this study is that, while broadcasting structures in the Third World remain institutionally affiliated with governments, access to the airwaves by actors not associated with the public sector is possible, though on a controlled basis.

International Communication Gazettevol. 45 no. 3 173-187.

By Muhammad Ayish| 1990
Categories:  Case Studies


Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively by all means of communication. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.


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