Date of Award

Spring 2003

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Ugland, Erik

Second Advisor

Scotton, James F.

Third Advisor

Thorn, William

Abstract

This thesis addresses issues of the digital divide and the uniqueness of Africa's problems with the divide. Using the works of Worldspace Foundation, the thesis highlights the use of direct-to-receiver satellite broadcasts in providing information to marginalized communities in the continent. The thesis then addresses the present and future implications of using direct-to-receiver satellite broadcast in Africa, focusing on four key elements unique to the African continent: Poverty, illiteracy, telecommunication infrastructure and government regulation. These elements are a hindrance to bridging the digital divide, but are also crucial in bridging that divide. Furthermore, the use of satellite technology for broadcast may improve or weaken these elements, consequently exacerbating the digital divide. The technology may be accepted or rejected by the same communities being targeted. The technology may also pose a threat to the cultural norms of the targeted communities. Eventually, attempts to bridge the digital divide may further increase the gap between the information-haves and information havenots. Consequently, new technologies may further place Africa on a more disadvantageous situation with respect to their ability to access information.

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