American Television in South Africa:
Ethnicity, Preference, Perception and Terminal Values.
Russell B. Williams, Ph.D.
College of Communications
The Pennsylvania State University
Rochelle O. Williams
Rand Afrikaans University
Johannesburg, Gauteng, Republic of South Africa
110 Carnegie Building
University Park, PA 16802
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American Television in South Africa:
Ethnicity, Preference, Perception and Terminal Values.
South Africans have been able to receive television signals in their
homes since 1974. Television shows from the United States have been a part of
the offerings on the governmentally-controlled system since the early 1980s.
Program producers from the United States continued to supply television content
to South Africa even while the community of nations was isolating South Africa
politically and economically. The growing dominance of English as the language
of commerce and unity in South Africa, the maintenance of an independent
broadcasting network, and the introduction of satellite-delivered television
services is opening the door even wider for the importation and use of
programming from the United States. South Africans can see many American
television series within a year of their first broadcast in the United States.
While questions are raised in the United States about the impact of television
viewing on young people, questions must also be asked in South Africa. A key
question is whether the consumption of this foreign television programming is
serving as an important socializing agent for young South African viewers.
The research reported here is a preliminary study of the impact of
American television on values in South Africa. President Nelson Mandela refers
to his infant democracy as the "Rainbow Nation." South Africa, which is
physically one and one-half times the size of the state of Texas, presently
recognizes eleven official languages among her more than 40 million people.
Nine of the languages are primarily spoken among the black people of the
country, one language is spoken primarily among the white and colored people
(colored is a former legal designation of racially-mixed Afrikaans-speaking
people which has continued to be used in the current dispensation), and the
other, English, is spoken across racial and ethnic lines. The question here is
whether the availability and consumption of television programs from the United
States is overwhelming socialization as it occurs through culture, institutions
and experience and homogenizing the values of South African matriculants. The
impact of American television on terminal values is the focus of this article.
Terminal values are the end states, conditions, which a person holds in high
regard. Peace, family security and mature love are three examples of terminal
values. This goal of this research is to identify the role of ethnic
identification, heart language, television consumption and television perception
in the framing of terminal values for a sample of young South Africans and
provide a structure for future inquiry in international cross-cultural media
The question of socialization and the learning of values is
approached in this study from an empirical point of view. Respondents have been
asked to identify themselves ethnically, to report the language they speak at
home and with their closest friends, and to rank ten terminal values from the
scale developed by Rokeach (1973). Respondents have also identified the number
of hours of television they watch in a week, designated their three favorite
television programs and constructed a diary of their viewing habits.
Respondents also completed indices which indicate their affinity for television
and their perception of the reality of television programming. Responses to
these various questionnaire items have been tabulated, compared and analyzed
using statistical methods. Bandura's (1994) explication of social learning is
the theoretical basis for this research. This theory is compelling for the
study of international media effects because it attempts to account for the role
of individual differences and perception in the process of learning behaviors
and attitudes from television. The consumption of television does not occur in
a vacuum and the individual viewer comes to the experience with ideas about
themselves, the world and the medium of television.
The responses of 72 matriculants are analyzed in this study. All of
the respondents come from a random sampling of the matriculant class of high
schools in Witbank, Mpumalanga, South Africa. The sample is an accurate subset
of the school population in Witbank, but not an accurate subset of the total
population. The sample primarily includes young people who identify their heart
language as Zulu, English and Afrikaans. Ethnically the group includes
respondents who call themselves Zulu, English, Afrikaans, Sotho, Indian, Swazi,
Ndebele, Tswana, Pedi and Portugese.
The research question for this study is what demographic factors
(gender, ethnicity, heart language, race and socio-economic status), television
consumption factors (overall hours of viewing, hours of American viewing,
percentage of American viewing and percentage of favorites which come from the
United States), or television perception factors (perceived reality and
television affinity) play a role in the ranking of terminal values by these
respondents. The questions which will be examined toward this end will include
how demographic factors influence consumption and perception, and how
consumption factors influence perception.
Elasmar and Straubhaar (1993) produced a statistical analysis of
international media effects research. They present a detailed picture of a
disorganized literature. The authors said that between 1965 and 1993 there were
only 28 studies which can be categorized as scientific, "defined as systematic
observations based upon the method of science and utilizing statistical analytic
methods" (Elasmar & Straubhaar, 1993, p. 3). Elasmar and Straubhaar (1993) also
report that 1) there are no consistent findings, strong or weak, in the
literature; 2) there is inconsistency in operationalizing concepts; 3) one
research project does not build on another; and, 4) there is a general lack of
theoretical foundation for the research.
Geographically, Canada and Asia are the most popular locations for
the study of foreign media impact. Africa is comparatively ignored. In nine of
the 28 scientific studies of cross-cultural international media impact the
authors did not measure the consumption of foreign media by their respondents
(Elasmar & Straubhaar, 1993). The authors of the remaining 19 scientific
studies considered foreign media consumption in a variety of ways. There has
also been a lack of consistency in the types of dependent measures employed in
cross-cultural international media influence studies. The need for replication
with consistent dependent measures is obvious. Additionally there is a need to
replicate studies within specific cultural and national contexts. Elasmar and
Straubhaar (1993) concluded that they could not draw any sort of broad-based
conclusions about the impact of American media products consumed outside of the
United States from the literature. They say the development of a cross-study
generalization is a "practical impossibility" (p. 36).
The largest unifying factor in cross-cultural media effects
literature is Cultivation Analysis. Salwen (1991) said Cultivation offers a
valuable framework for studying cultural effects. However, Cultivation Analysis
is based on gross measures of the nature of media content in the United States
and, as presently formulated, cannot account for the variance in worldview
between the content of locally-produced programs and American imports, the
variance in consumption of local and imported programming, and the variance in
strength and influence of diverse cultural groups within international contexts.
Potter (1987) reported difficulty finding what the "television world" answer
would be, a concept central to Cultivation Analysis, in his study of
adolescents' perceptions of values in television in the United States. The
difficulty increases as the concept of the "television world" is taken into the
Pingree and Hawkins (1981) studied the Cultivation of American values
in Australia. They surveyed over a thousand school children. These respondents
also completed diaries of their viewing during the week. Pingree and Hawkins
(1981) found that the viewing of American television programs was influencing
respondents' views of the U.S. and Australia. They concluded that,
"...cultivation of beliefs about the world, at least in the case about violence
and crime, does occur even when the messages are imported from another country"
(Pingree & Hawkins, 1981, p. 104). Researchers working in the Netherlands were
not able to identify the presence of Cultivation in their respondents (Bouwman,
1984). They reported that this may have been the case because their Dutch
respondents appeared to be heavier consumers of information programming than
entertainment fare and apparently reality-based programming is less likely to
cultivate a media-based worldview. Wiemann (1984) looked at cultivation among
high school and college students in Israel. American shows were available for
viewing more than half of the time programs were available. Heavy viewers in
this study had a "rosier" view of life in America than light viewers and they
overestimated the wealth of the average United States resident. Morgan and
Shanahan (1992) compared the impact of American media on respondents from Taiwan
and Argentina. They found that the Taiwanese respondents were less dependent on
television for the development of their conception of social reality than people
from Argentina or the United States and demonstrated no Cultivation effect.
Morgan and Shanahan (1992) did identify what they call " a classic case of
mainstreaming," among the respondents from Argentina. Mainstreaming is the
centralizing of attitudes and opinions toward the television mean as a result of
consumption. Kapoor and Kang (1993) studied young people in India and Korea and
found, "...little evidence that U.S. television programs have cultivation
effects across genders in either society" (p. 10).
According to the authors of these articles using cultivation as a
theoretical framework does not yield substantial or conclusive results. Looking
at these studies on the basis of their findings it appears that culture may be
one of the more significant aspects of observational learning through the mass
media. People with stronger ties to their culture may be less available for
foreign influence. They may be learning their attitudes and values from sources
other than television programming.
During the late-1970s and early-1980s the border areas between the
United States and Canada were of interest to researchers. Television signals
from both countries crossed over these boundaries and they proved to be easily
accessible areas for study. Sparkes (1977) surveyed along the border and found
no evidence of shows from the United States altering Canadian attitudes about
themselves or the United States. Payne (1978) reversed the direction of the
research and looked at the influence of Canadian television on viewers in
Minnesota. He found no significant consequence in watching television from
across the border. Barnett and McPhail (1980) in their study of university
students in Canada found that students who watched more television from the
United States were more likely to consider themselves American rather than
Canadian. Payne and Caron's (1982) work in French-speaking Canada appears to be
some of the most substantial work in cross-cultural international media effects.
The researchers in this study did their best to account for variables beyond
media consumption which might account for values, attitudes and opinions. They
considered socioeconomic background, intercultural contact and interpersonal
communication as well as media consumption in the attempt to isolate the impact
of English-language broadcasting on French-speaking Canadians. Payne and Caron
(1982) concluded that their data supported 1) the idea that the media have the
greatest impact with information from the areas least familiar to a viewer; 2)
some affects can be tied to television but the most significant factors in
differences between people are related to socioeconomic status and interpersonal
contact; and 3) that using the same measures in varying cultural settings
resulted in varying outcomes. In reviewing his own work Payne (1993) said,
"...changes in attitudes, agendas, and information levels have complex causes
with many contributing factors. Assessment of the role of media in these
changes should always be in the complex of sophisticated controls for
linguistic, socioeconomic, and interpersonal contact variables. None of these
variables should be taken out of context (p. 6).
Payne and Peake (1977) analyzed data from a number of studies of the
influence of American television in Iceland. They gave limited assent to a
finding that high viewing of television from the U. S. was associated with a
preference for migration to the U. S. Boyd and Najai (1984) studied media use
by young people in Saudi Arabia and found a preference for culturally proximate
and local programming. Kang and Morgan (1988) studied the impact of exposure to
American Armed Forces television on Korean students who were studying English.
The researchers reported that there was some evidence of influence on the
attitudes of the women in their sample, but that the men in their sample
demonstrated an unexpected "backlash" toward the values of the American media
products as a result of their consumption of television programming from the
Chaffee and Chu (1992) compared the nature of the impact of American
media products in China and Taiwan, two countries with centuries of shared
history and a 50-year divergence of political purpose. The researchers chose
their dependent variables on the basis of Confucian tradition, the genesis for
values in Chinese culture, and reported that "In Taiwan, we see the influx of
mass communication associated with marked declines in interpersonal contact and
in the desire for a large family. In China, Western entertainment is a strong
predictor of altered perceptions of male-female relationships" (Chaffee & Chu,
1992, p. 235).
Tan and Suarchavarat (1988) analyzed the cross-cultural impact of
American media products with the Cultivation Hypothesis and it did not seem to
adequately account for the role of American media products in the lives of Thai
people. With his study of the Phillipines (Tan, Tan, & Tan, 1987) Tan reached
into social psychology for the Values construct which has been explicated and
operationalized by Rokeach and his colleagues (Rokeach, 1979; Rokeach, 1973;
Williams, 1979). Using this construct did not provide Tan, et al (1987) with
overwhelming indicators of cross-cultural international media impact, such an
instant and remarkable indicator would be suspect. It does, however, introduce
a dependent variable which has been recognized and tested as a fundamental
cross-cultural factor (Dodd, 1991). Tan and his colleagues were able to
conclude that "There is some evidence, then, that frequent viewing of American
television is related to some erosion of traditional Filipino values" (Tan, Tan,
& Tan, 1987, p. 144).
Building on this research, we then pursue the notion that the
consumption of American television is eroding cultural value systems in South
Africa. We do this with a recognition of individual and cultural differences,
the breadth and depth of television viewing and the conception of television
which is held by the individual respondents. If American television programs
are in fact eroding the culture of South Africa the consumption of this
programming may be socializing a new television generation of South Africans,
homogenizing cultures into a new form which reaches across previously understood
ethnic, cultural and linguistic divisions in the society.
Witbank, Mpumalanga, Republic of South Africa
Witbank stands 70 kilometers east of Pretoria. It is a young city
which received official status in March of 1994. It is one of South Africa's
most important industrial centers. The Witbank population is nearly 250,000 and
it is growing. Over three-quarters of the population is Black, including a
range of ethnic groups but dominated by the Zulus, and 21% is White, including
Afrikaans, English, and other descendants of Europe. Coloured and Indian people
each represent less than two percent of the total population. Coal mining, the
refining of ore and the generation of electricity form the industrial core of
Witbank. Farming also remains an important contributor to the economy in the
surrounding area. There are 19 primary schools and nine high schools in
Witbank. The are also three technical colleges, a coal-mine training college
and a satellite campus of The University of Pretoria. People in Witbank can
receive the three channels of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)
and M-Net, the country's only independent television broadcaster, over the air,
as well as the M-Net's subscription channel and multi-channel satellite service
which provides access to cable networks from the United States, including ESPN,
CNN, TNT, The Cartoon Channel and VH-1.
Five of the nine high schools in Witbank agreed to take part in this
study. Four of the high schools are public and one is private. Reflecting the
legacy of apartheid each one of these schools is dominated by a particular
racial or ethnic group. Included is one high school in Bonginsimbi, the black
township of Witbank The students here come from the poorest families in the
Witbank area. A random sample was taken from the matriculant class of each one
of these high schools. Matriculants, twelfth-graders in the American system,
were chosen because these young people represent the first South African
generation to grow up with the possibility of having a television in their home.
The face-to-face interviews with the students took place in January 1995.
Forty (56%) of the 72 respondents are Black, nine (12.5%) are Indian
and 22 (30%) are White. Looking at a personally-defined ethnic identity, 18 of
the respondents considered themselves to be Zulu, 17 said they are English, ten
called themselves Afrikaans, six were Ndebele, four were Swazi, two consider
themselves to be Pedi and two call themselves Portugese. There is one
respondent from each of the following ethnic groups, German, Sotho, Tsonga, and
Tswana and one from Malawi. Heart Language is the language which a respondent
speaks at home. The three major Heart Language groups are English, 30
respondents, Zulu, 28 respondents, and Afrikaans, 10 respondents. Each of these
language categories differs from the ethnic categories as the English-speaking
group is far more diverse than the ethnically English group, the Zulu-speaking
group consolidates a number of Black ethnic groups and the Afrikaans-speaking
group includes the one Coloured respondent while losing an ethnically-Afrikaans
person who speaks English at home.
Fifty of the participants, 69.4% of the sample, from Witbank are
females. The average age for all of the respondents is 17.3, which is
consistent with their status in school as Matriculants. Forty-two of the
respondents, 58%, live with both of their parents and the average family size,
including both parents, is just over five. While no members of this sample have
ever been to the United States, eleven of the respondents have contact with a
friend or relative who lives in the United States. These eleven people came
from across the sample and were not limited to one ethnic or linguistic group.
Respondents were guided through a structured paper-and-pencil survey
where they recorded information about themselves, their use of television and
preference for American programs, their attitude toward and perception of
television and their ranking of ten terminal values.
The first level of independent variables in this study is
demographics. This category includes gender, age, ethnic identification, heart
language, and parents' socio-economic status. The next level of variable is
television viewing habits. For some measures these will be independent and for
others they will be dependent. Several measures of viewing are being used in
First, respondents reported viewing in hours per day. Next
respondents named their three favorite programs. Finally, with a television
program guide at the ready for recall, respondents completed a diary of what
they would normally watch during the week. A per week percentage of American
program viewing was calculated from the constructed diary. This percentage was
multiplied by the average weekly hours of television to determine the number of
hours spent weekly watching programming from the United States. A percentage
was also recorded for the portion of reported favorite programs which came from
the United States. A program was considered to be American as long as it was
produced in the United States. The presence of non-English dubbing did not
change the categorization of a program. In many cases dubbed programs are
simulcast on radio in their original language and some English programs are
simulcast in a variety of other languages.
The third level of variables is also independent in relation to the
ranking of terminal values but dependent in relation to demographics and viewing
habits. This level includes attitude toward television and perception of the
reality of television. The measure of media attitude in this study is the
Television Affinity scale. This is a five-item index which calls for responses
on a Likert scale and indicates the respondents level of attachment with
television. Television Affinity has not been previously studied in relation to
international media effects. Perse (1994b) stated that, "Because of its
positive relationship to exposure and initial results that support links to
viewing outcomes, affinity might have utility for media effects studies" (p.
367). The measure of media perception in this study is the Perceived Reality
scale. This is also a five-item index which calls for responses on Likert scale
and it has not been previously used in a study of international media effects.
Perse (1994a) indicates that most researchers "use realism as a moderator or
mediator of TV behaviors and effects" (p. 282). She reports that in previous
studies increased scores on the perceived realism scale "accompanies increased
motivation to watch TV. Motives that reflect learning and seeking information
from TV are most strongly correlated with perceived realism" (Perse, 1994a, p.
The primary dependent variable in this study is the ranking of ten
terminal values. The Rokeach (1973) operationalization of values was used
previously as a dependent variable by Tan, et al. (1987). Tan and his
colleagues used three of the 36 value items described by Rokeach (1973) and then
made conclusions about the value statements of their respondents as they
compared to the "hypothesized" values of American television shows. Here we are
starting with the 18 terminal values identified by Rokeach (1973). The other 18
of the 36 are instrumental values. Rokeach (1973) said that when a person has a
value "he has an enduring prescriptive or proscriptive belief that a specific
mode of behavior or end-state of existence is preferred to an oppositive mode of
behavior or end-state" (p. 25). In this research we are considering end-states
and not modes of behavior. We have also reduced the list to ten to simplify the
ranking process for respondents. On the questionnaire the list of values is
presented in alphabetical order. The terminal values ranked by the respondents
in this study are 1) a sense of accomplishment; 2) a world at peace; 3)
equality; 4) family security; 5) freedom; 6) happiness; 7) mature love; 8)
social recognition; 9) true friendship; and 10)wisdom.
There can be no doubt that the list of values is biased toward
American-based concepts. The context of its development makes it difficult to
come to any other conclusion. Yet this bias does not preclude the use of the
values survey for research such as this because the focus of the study is on the
consumption of television which also come out of the American context. This
means that the values expressed in the ranking can parallel values expressed in
the programming and learned by respondents. The goal is to understand the
relationship between the ranking of these values and the consumption of American
Relationships were tested for this research in two ways. Differences
in percentages and means were examined through the use of t-tests. Correlations
between variables were examined with Pearson's r for continuous variables and
Spearman's r for rank-ordered variables.
The respondents in this study averaged a total of 21.8 hours of
television watching per week. The minimum amount of total television viewing
was four hours per week and the maximum was 55. These South Africans had an
average of 56.2% American programs in their total viewing per week which means
they watch an average of 12.8 hours of American television programs per week.
The maximum viewing of American television on a weekly basis was 36 hours.
Asking the Witbank respondents to name their three favorite programs it turns
out that an average of 56.5% of these programs came from the United States.
Considering the demographic background of these respondents, a number
of differences become apparent. Table one provides a view of the differences
between the males and females in the sample. No significant differences can be
seen in viewing habits on this basis.
Total Viewing Hours/Week 19.9 25.9
U.S. Viewing Hours/Week 12.6 13.3
U.S. Total % per Week 59.7% 48.2%
U.S. Favorite % 54.0% 62.4%
Table 1 Viewing Habits By Gender
Afrikaans English Indian Ndebele Swazi Zulu Other
Total Viewing 22 26.2 18.7 20.1 13.1 22.5 19.2
U.S. Viewing 14.3 18.2** 12.6 5.9* 5.6 12.6 9.9
U.S. Total % 54.9% 70.4%** 67.3% 29.1%* 36.4% 58% 46.7%
U.S. Favorite % 53.4%* 73.9%* 78.6% 25%* 24.7% 46.7% 41.6%
n=10 n=17 n=7 n=6 n=4 n=18 n=10
Table 2 Viewing Habits By Ethnic Identification (*p<.05, **p<.01)
Table two breaks out the differences in viewing habits on the basis
of ethnic identity. Some of the groups are very small and yet when they are
compared to the rest of the sample significant differences appear. Of
particular note is the fact that the respondents who consider themselves to be
ethnically English have the highest percentages of American programming in their
The ethnically English also appear to have a substantially higher
weekly viewing average though this difference did not show statistical
significance. The Ndebele students show up at the lower ends of these
categories of television use with particular reference to the consumption of
programming from the United States. Swazi respondents are not far behind but
the Zulu members of the sample seem to have less of an aversion to programming
from the United States.
Afrikaans English Zulu Other African
Total Viewing Hrs/Week 22.4 23.8 23.1 15.2
U.S. Viewing Hours/Week 15.4 16.6** 9.5** 5.1
U.S. Total % per Week 59.1% 69.3%*** 48.7%* 23.7%
U.S. Favorite % 70.5% 74.6%*** 34.1%*** 39.7%
n=11 n=31 n=31 n=4
Table 3 Viewing Habits By Heart Language (*p<.05, **p<.01,
Low-SES Middle-SES High-SES
Total Viewing Hrs/Week 18.8* 26.6* 21.5
U.S. Viewing Hours/Week 11.2 14.6 14.1
U.S. Total % per Week 57.0% 52.2% 61.2%
U.S. Favorite % 49.3% 63.7% 63.9%
n=36 n=23 n=13
Table 4 Viewing Habits By Socio-Economic Status (*p<.05)
Table three provides a look at the differences on the basis of heart
language. These groups are more consolidated than the ethnic groups because a
number of the groups shared heart languages. Examples of this are the Swazi,
Ndebele and Zulu who share Zulu as a language and the Indian and English groups
who share English. The differences between the ethnically English and the rest
of the sample are highlighted in this data. There appears to be a strong bias
toward English-based American programming among the English-speaking
respondents. The group consolidated around the Zulu language shows very
striking differences when tested against the rest of the sample. These
particular people have very little, or the least, interest in the television
programs of the United States.
The differences which appear on the basis of ethnicity and heart
language do not reappear when the responses are considered on the basis of
socio-economic status. The middle and high SES groups seem to have greater love
of programming from the United States than their counterparts, but the key
points in table four appear to be the fact that the respondents in the low
socio-economic status category have the lowest level of total viewing and those
in the middle socio-economic group have the greatest.
Contact with someone in the United States can be an important
interpersonal factor in the development of attitudes and values which are more
"American." In table five it becomes obvious that this contact at least has an
impact on viewing habits as the relatively few respondents who do know someone
in the United States watch more American television and have a greater
preference for than do their colleagues.
U.S. Contact No U.S. Contact
Total Viewing Hours/Week 30.5* 20.2*
U.S. Viewing Hours/Week 20.5** 11.4**
U.S. Total % per Week 66.9% 54.3%
U.S. Favorite % 76.5%* 52.9%*
Table 5 Viewing Habits By Contact with Someone in the United States
Looking at the continuous variables there are a number of substantial
correlations which appear between demographic variables and the television
viewing habits of the respondents in the sample. There is a negative
correlation of .316 between the relatively invariant age of respondents and
their percentage of favorites from the United States. A negative relationship
of .209 exists between age and hours of American television per week and the
correlation between age and total percentage of American programs being watched
is -.222. There is a negative relationship of .210 between respondent family
size and the total hours of television watched per week and the hours of
American television watched per week demonstrates a negative relationship of
.209 with family size. There is a positive correlation of .314 between
percentage of favorites which come from America and the total hours of
television watched per week.
The Witbank matriculants in this study had an average score on the
Perceived Reality Scale of 16 with 24 as a high and nine as a low. Their
average on the Television Affinity scale is 14.38 with 23 as a high and six as a
Television Affinity 14.0 15.2
Perceived Reality 16.0 15.9
Table 6 Affinity & Perception By Gender
Table six shows that there are no differences in Television Affinity
or Perceived Reality scores on the basis of gender.
Afrikaans English Indian Ndebele Swazi Zulu Other
Television Aff. 11.3* 14.1 14.1 11.8 15.0 16.7* 16.3
Perceived Reality 12.7** 15.5 17.9 14.8 18.2 17.3 15.2
n=10 n=17 n=7 n=6 n=4 n=18 n=10
Table 7 Television Affinity & Perceived Reality By Ethnic
Identification (*p<.05, **p<.01)
Table seven shows that there are some ethnic differences in scoring
on these scales. Of particular note is the fact that the Afrikaans participants
have the lowest average score on the Television Affinity scale in comparison
with the rest of the participants. This stands in opposition to the fact that
the Zulu respondents had the highest comparative average on the Affinity scale.
It is interesting to note that the Ndebele participants have scores which are
not far from the Afrikaans scores, however, there are not enough of these
respondents for the differences to be statistically significant. The Afrikaans
participants also had the lowest scores on the scale of Perceived Reality. This
ethnic group of people apparently has the least need for television and
distrusts most of what they see.
The lack of a perception that television is real is emphasized in
table eight and the breakdown of Affinity and Reality scores on the basis of
heart language. The eleven Afrikaners appear to stand at a distance from the
other respondents with their low Perceived Reality scores. These scores are
significantly lower when compared to the average score of the balance of the
Afrikaans English Zulu Other African
Television Affinity 11.8 14.5 15.1 14.2
Perceived Reality 13.0** 16.0 16.8 17.0
n=11 n=31 n=31 n=4
Table 8 Television Affinity & Perceived Reality By Heart Language
Low-SES Middle-SES High-SES
Television Affinity 14.2 15.1 13.5
Perceived Reality 16.7 16.3 13.7**
n=36 n=23 n=13
Table 9 Television Affinity & Perceived Reality By Socio-Economic
The low Perceived Reality scores for the respondents in the high
socio-economic status group appear to mirror the scores of the Afrikaans and
Afrikaans speaking respondents. This may in fact be some of the same factors at
work, however, not all of the members of the high socio-economic group consider
themselves to be Afrikaners or speak Afrikaans at home with their parents.
These may be two sides of the same coin but they are not necessarily the same
respondents providing this significant difference.
It is interesting to note in table ten that while contact with a
person in the United States had some effect on the respondents choice and
preference for programming, there is no related difference found in the
Television Affinity or Perceived Reality scales.
U.S. Contact No U.S. Contact
Television Affinity 15.5 14.2
Perceived Reality 16.1 16.0
Table 10 Television Affinity & Perceived Reality By Contact with
Someone in the United States
There are a number of important relationships between these scales of
perception and affinity and the continuous variables of demographics and
television habits. Perceived reality scores have a positive correlation of .223
with family size in this sample. Scores on the Perceived Reality scale have a
negative relationship of .201 with the percentage of favorites which originate
in the United States and a negative relationship of .164 with total percentage
of American programming viewed per week. Television Affinity scores quite
logically demonstrate a positive .497 correlation with total hours of television
viewed per week. There is a similar positive relationship, .396, between
Television Affinity and the hours of American television watched per week.
Television Affinity scores and Perceived Reality scores have a very strong
relationship with one another as evidenced by a positive correlation of .504.
The Witbank matriculants gave an average ranking to the ten terminal
values in the following order:
1) Family Security (average rank = 3.44), taking care of loved ones;
2) Happiness (average rank = 3.56), contendedness;
3) A World at Peace (average rank = 4.72), free of war and conflict;
4) True Friendship (average rank = 5.10), close companionship;
5) Wisdom (average rank = 5.39), a mature understanding of life;
6) Equality (average rank = 5.47), brotherhood, equal opportunity;
7) Freedom (average rank = 5.49), independence, free choice;
8) Social Recognition (average rank = 6.46), respect, admiration;
9) A Sense of Accomplishment (average rank = 6.86), providing a
and 10) Mature Love (average rank = 7.81), sexual and spiritual
Looking at table eleven it is apparent that gender does not influence
any differences in the ranking of variables, except for true friendship. This
is the only value which bears a significant variance in this test of its ranking
by the South African matriculants in this study. True Friendship may indeed be
the most interesting of the terminal values examined in this study. The ranking
of this value is effected by the influence of a number of different independent
variables. Here the male respondents rank True Friendship much lower than the
females. The only other variables which is out of its order for the entire
sample is the female ranking of freedom.
Family Security 3.4 3.6
Happiness 3.4 3.9
World at Peace 4.9 4.4
True Friendship 4.5** 6.4**
Wisdom 5.7 4.7
Equality 5.7 5.0
Freedom 5.2 6.0
Social Recognition 6.5 6.4
Sense of Accomplishment 6.9 6.7
Mature Love 7.8 7.8
Table 11 Terminal Value Ranking By Gender (**=p<.01)
Ethnicity does not appear to exercise a great deal of influence on
the ranking of terminal values. There are a number of places were comparisons
of individual group rankings with the balance of the sample provide
statistically significant results, but the discovery of strong effects will
require a more substantial sample than the one acquired for this study. It is
interesting that the ethnically English rank a World at Peace much lower than
the balance of the sample and that they rank a sense of accomplishment higher
than the balance of the group. The Afrikaners rank a sense of accomplishment the
lowest in the group and the ethnic Zulus rank happiness higher than anyone else.
Afrikaans English Indian Ndebele Swazi Zulu Other
Family Security 3.4 3.9 2.7 2.5 4.7 3.6 2.9
Happiness 3.5 4.0 2.3 4.3 3.2 2.7* 4.9
World at Peace 4.7 6.2* 5.0 3.5 2.7 4.2 4.4
True Friendship 3.9 4.9 3.7 6.7 6.2 5.1 6.2
Wisdom 5.3 5.7 5.4 4.0 4.7 6.1 4.7
Equality 5.7 5.8 5.4 6.3 5.5 5.0 5.1
Freedom 5.4 5.0 4.3 5.4 5.2 6.3 5.2
Social Recog. 5.8 6.5 7.9 6.7 6.0 6.2 6.7
Accomplishment 8.2* 5.8* 6.4 7.1 6.5 7.4 6.6
Mature Love 8.8 6.7 6.9 7.2 10 8.1 8.3
n=10 n=17 n=7 n=6 n=4 n=18 n=10
Table 12 Terminal Value Ranking By Ethnic Identification (*p<.05)
Afrikaans English Zulu Other African
Family Security 3.7 3.1 3.6 3.5
Happiness 3.7 3.4 3.4 6.0
World At Peace 5.2 6.0** 3.5** 4.2
True Friendship 3.6* 4.4* 5.9* 7.5
Wisdom 5.2 5.4 5.4 5.2
Equality 6.2 5.8 5.3 2.2**
Freedom 4.8 5.4 6.0 5.5
Social Recognition 5.8 7.0 6.4 4.7
Accomplishment 7.8 6.4 7.2 7.2
Mature Love 8.6 7.1* 8.2 7.0
n=11 n=31 n=31 n=4
Table 13 Terminal Value Ranking By Heart Language (*p<.05, **p<.01)
In table 13 the consolidation of the ethnic groups into language
groups emphasizes some of the differences seen above and brings to light several
others. The Afrikaans-speaking respondents rank true friendship significantly
higher than the rest of the sample. The English speaking members of the sample
also rank True Friendship highest when they are compared to the balance of the
group and those who speak Zulu rank it the lowest in comparison. The English
speakers also give a higher ranking to mature love though they have still not
placed it near the top. The contrast between the ranking of a world at peace
between the English and the Zulu is interesting.
Low-SES Middle-SES High-SES
Family Security 3.0 4.3* 2.9
Happiness 3.2 4.0 3.6
World at Peace 4.7 4.1 5.8
True Friendship 5.2 5.3 4.2
Wisdom 5.5 5.2 5.5
Equality 5.5 4.8 6.4
Freedom 5.2 5.6 6.2
Social Recognition 6.1 6.5 7.3
Accomplishment 7.1 7.2 5.5
Mature Love 7.9 7.9 7.2
n=36 n=23 n=13
Table 14 Terminal Value Ranking By Socio-Economic Status (*p<.05)
Socio-economic status appears to have very little influence on the
ranking of terminal values. It is interesting that those in the middle
socio-economic status group rank family security significantly lower than the
rest of the sample, but there must be other variables which have greater
Contact with someone in the United States also fails to provide any
impact the ranking of values by the respondents in this study as evidenced in
U.S. Contact No U.S. Contact
Accomplishment 6.0 7.0
World at Peace 5.0 4.7
Equality 5.9 5.4
Family Security 3.5 3.4
Freedom 5.4 5.5
Happiness 3.8 3.5
Mature Love 7.9 7.8
Social Recognition 8.0 6.2
True Friendship 4.8 5.1
Wisdom 4.7 5.5
Table 15 Terminal Value Ranking By Contact with Someone in the
A substantial number of relationships exist between the continuous
demographic, television viewing, television perception and ranking of terminal
values variables. There is a positive relationship of .202 between family size
and the ranking of equality. Age is negatively correlated with the ranking of
freedom at .218. Happiness rankings also have a .189 correlation with family
size. The ranking of true friendship is negatively correlated at .161 with
family size. The ranking of wisdom is positively correlated with age at .238.
There is a negative relationship of .269 between the ranking of a
World at Peace and percentage of favorites which originate in the United States.
Equality is negatively correlated at .188 with hours of American program viewed
per week. The ranking of family security shows a correlation of -.187 with the
total hours of television viewed per week. The ranking of freedom is positively
correlated with the percentage of American favorites at .178. The ranking of
happiness as a terminal value has a positive .150 correlation with hours of
American television viewed per week. The percentage of identified favorites
which are American shows is positively related to the ranking of mature love at
.180. American hours watched per week has a negative correlation of .175 with
the ranking of social recognition and an extremely strong positive correlation
of .443 with the ranking of true friendship. The total percentage of American
programming viewed per week demonstrates a correlation of .302 with the ranking
of true friendship. The ranking of true friendship is also positively
correlated at .278 with total hours of television viewed per week. The ranking
of social recognition is negatively correlated with the total percentage of
viewing which is American at .203. The total percentage of American programs
per week has a negative correlation of .151 with the ranking of equality, a
-.161 correlation with the ranking of a world at peace and a positive
correlation of .169 with the ranking of accomplishment.
Perceived Reality scores demonstrate a .206 correlation with the
ranking of accomplishment and a .155 correlation with the ranking of a world at
peace. Television Affinity scores are positively related to the ranking of
social recognition at .210. Perceived reality scores also demonstrate a
positive relationship with the ranking of accomplishment at .209.
While the data reported in this study cannot be generalized across
the population of South Africa there are some striking elements of the
international media effects process which can be learned from this information.
First, there is a relative lack of interest in programming from the
United States on the part of non-European ethnic groups and respondents who do
not consider English to be their heart language. The differences in preferences
for American television are very telling between the English and Zulu language
groups. The Indian ethnic group showed more interest in American programming
than any other non-white group. This is explained in part by the fact that this
group of Indian matriculants reported English as their heart language. It is
interesting to note from their viewing diaries and report of favorite programs
that American soap operas available in the early evening are a very important
part of their television consumption.
Matriculants in the black ethnic groups showed a relative lack of
interest in American television but not the same lack of interest in television
in general. Zulu speaking respondents are clearly less interested in American
television than their counterparts in the sample. The possibility clearly
exists that Pool (1977) was right about his contention that local people from
dynamic cultures will be more interested in local forms of broadcasting than
they are in the foreign imports. However, there are even differences between
African ethnic groups in their use of the media. The differences are not large
in this group because of the dominant presence of Zulu respondents but there are
clear indications of variance on the basis of ethnic heritage and culture. It
will be informative to probe this variance in more detail in samples with a
broader scope of ethnic African representation.
Scores on the Perceived Reality scale also offer some points of
interest in this research, particularly between the groups which show a
preference for American programming and the groups which do not. The data here
indicate that the more an individual consumes foreign programming the less real
they perceive television content to be. Groups which show high levels of
American consumption show low level scores on the Perceived Reality scale and
there are negative correlations between Perceived Reality scores and American
consumption measures. This negative relationship is true for the Afrikaners in
the sample who show a marked preference for programming produced in the United
States and low Perceived Reality scores as well as low Television Affinity
scores. For the Afrikaner the situation might be that programs produced in the
United States provide faces which are similar to their own and are easy to
invite into their home for a visit. Ultimately the situations and outcomes
found in the programs are clearly foreign and not familiar or particularly true
to the Afrikaner worldview or experience. They are American situations arising
from experiences in the United States and there is a definite divergence in
culture and global perspective between Afrikaners and Americans. Historically,
there are also differences in the culture and worldview the Afrikaners and the
English within South Africa.
The high scores on the Perceived Reality scale for the matriculants
in this sample with Zulu, Ndebele, Swazi and other African ethnic backgrounds
may be explained in part by their viewing choices. Resondents in these groups
prefer not to watch American programs and tend to watch programs which are shot
in South Africa, with African themes, locations and languages. Many of the
programs mentioned in diaries and favorites lists are educational and
developmental programs focused on the recently disadvantaged groups within the
country. These programs may in fact be more realistic because they reflect the
everyday experience of the ethnic African viewers. They are also populated with
faces that are more familiar to the viewers. Therefore these high perceptions
of reality are a function of the programs consumed and not some misunderstanding
of programs which come from the United States. The Perceived Reality scores are
higher because the programs include more elements relevant to many aspects of
the local situation.
Respondents who have contact with a friend or relative in the United
States demonstrate some interesting attributes in this study. This group of
eleven students reaches across the various ethnic and linguistic sub-groups of
the sample. This group then shows a distinctly greater interest in television
from the United States than the rest of the sample. However, when they are
compared to the balance of the sample on other measures they do not appear to be
particularly different or unusual. This includes television affinity, perceived
reality and the ranking of the terminal values. This seems to indicate that
knowing someone in the United States may interest a person in information about
the United States, or programming which originates there, but that does not
necessarily impact the person's perception and affinity for television or their
values. Interest does not always equate to effect as there are mediating
factors, such as culture and daily life experience, which play a more important
role than television in the socialization of values in the individual.
Watching television or the specific consumption of or preference for
programming from the United States does not appear to have a significant impact
on the ranking of terminal values for the individuals in this sample. Only the
ranking of true friendship appears to be influenced by the consumption of
American programming. A factor which may better explain differences in the
ranking of true friendship is the ethnicity and heart language of the people who
rank true friendship the highest. Afrikaans-speaking respondents rank this
value significantly higher than their counterparts in the Witbank sample. These
are some of the same people who view the highest levels of programming from the
United States. Therefore, the question is raised whether this ranking is a
function of watching television from the United States or of speaking Afrikaans.
On the basis of the other information reported in this study it is difficult to
conclude exactly which factor holds the greatest sway because the ethnically
Indian respondents actually rank true friendship higher than the rest of the
group and they do not speak Afrikaans at home. The determination of the nature
of this relationship will be an excellent question to fuel future research.
Building on the relationships hypothesized about the ranking of true
friendship it becomes obvious that there is a need for further exploration of
values ranking in association with ethnicity, heart language and media related
variables. However, these future inquiries need to provide for complete
analysis of covariance and a regression of variables on the ranking of
individual values. A larger sample will make this possible and in turn provide
information about the relative strengths of ethnicity and television consumption
in the socialization process. Looking throughout the findings there are factors
which can be explained in a number of ways and the employment of more powerful
statistical tools on a larger sample will enable more detailed analysis as well
as more generalizable conclusions. The ranking of instrumental values on the
basis of these variables could also be informative.
In spite of the lack of significant differences in the ranking of
values on the basis of television viewing, the viewing of programs from the
United States and perceptions of television viewing, this strengthens the
literature in cross-cultural international media effects research. This study
shows the importance of ethnic identity and heart language in viewing choices,
the perception of and affinity for television content, and decisions about what
end-states are preferable over others. This study demonstrates the
possibilities for a reasonable accounting of television viewing habits and the
differences in the use of foreign programming. There is a rich vein of
information which can be tapped here for an understanding of how and why people
use television in the way they do in a variety of national and cultural
contexts. This study is the first to discuss the importance of intervening
variables such as reality perception and affinity. This too will provide a
great deal of information about international media use and impact in the
future. It is important to answer questions about how messages are received in
the attempt to understand the impact of that reception regardless of the context
for the research.
Finally, this research provides a baseline from which media effects
can be explored in South Africa and elsewhere. The questions which are being
asked here are important for scholarship as well as the development of policy.
Building on this research in combination with some of the previous work will
lead to the development of a systematic program of effects research outside of
the confines of the United States of America.
It will be beneficial to take what has been found here to streamline
an instrument for use with a larger cross-national sample in South Africa with
the possibility of considering other dependent variables. Using matriculants
provides a diverse base from which to explore media effects while avoiding many
of the pitfalls and impracticalities of other data-gathering methods in
less-developed areas. Interviewing matriculants makes it possible to reach
population sub-groups which might otherwise be inaccessible for researchers in
South Africa. Education is becoming universal in the New South Africa. The use
of the matriculant population also simplifies the possibility of cross-national
and cross-cultural comparisons which will further substantiate the body of
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