Artículo en PDF
How to cite
Complete issue
More information about this article
Journal's homepage in
Sistema de Información Científica
Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal
Dr. Associate Professor, Mudra Institute of Communication (MICA),
Shela, Ahmedabad, India.
Recibido: 08/01/10
Aceptado: 22/04/10
The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of
development communication. To do so, the frst section
focuses on the theoretical perspective and evolution of
development communication. The second section deals
with selected examples From the Third World, and the f
nal section is a summary.
Key words:
Development communication, process,
Third World, evolution.
ISSN 0122-8285
Volumen 13 Número 1
Junio de 2010
31 - 45
El propósito de este trabajo es proporcionar una visión
general de comunicación para el desarrollo. Para este fn,
la primera sección se centra en la perspectiva teórica y
evolución de la comunicación para el desarrollo. La se-
gunda sección trata de ejemplos seleccionados del Tercer
Mundo, y la sección fnal es un resumen.
Palabras clave:
comunicación para el desarrollo,
proceso, Tercer Mundo, evolución.
The Case of Development Communication:
Perspectives, Issues and Trends
El caso de comunicación para el desarrollo:
perspectivas, problemas y tendencias
A.F. Mathew
ISSN 0122-8285
The Case of Development Communication: Perspectives, Issues and Trends
Introduction to Development
Many notions persist with regard to both ‘devel-
opment’ and ‘communication’. How does one
place the concept of Development Communica-
tion? At a very basic level, development commu-
nication would mean the notion that mass media
are capable of creating a public atmosphere fa-
vorable to change, an aspect which is assumed
to be invaluable for converting traditional so-
cieties into modern, through technological ad-
vancement and economic growth (Beltran, 1993).
There are other related conceptualizations. There
is the concept of Development Support Com
nication and the concept of Alternative Com-
munication. These are specifc in the sense that
Development Support Communication holds the
view that planned and organized communication
is one of the key factors for the accomplishment
oF the goals oF specifc develop
ment seeking in-
stitutions and projects, whereas Alternative Com-
munication for democratic development is the
notion that by enhancing and balancing people’s
access to and participation in the communication
process (at all levels then, development should
secure, in addition to material gains, social justice
and freedom) (Beltrán, 1993, p. 9).
It must be noted that the assumption that com-
munication is one of the vital elements towards
the pro
cess of development is assumed. This
paper is going with that idea. At the outset, it re-
mains clear that the media cannot take over the
task of the community decision making group
but they can feed the discussion or play a role.
Any developing society must recognise the bor-
derline as to where the media can work e±ec
tively by itself and where they can accomplish
their goals only in support of interpersonal
communication and other factors. This is es-
sential (Schramm, 1964, p. 125). Here, Schramm
also goes on to specify the communication tasks
behind the social changes of national devel-
opment which are three in nature. Firstly, the
populace must have information about national
development; the focus on the need for change,
the opportunities inviting change, the methods
and means of change and their aspirations.
ondly, there must be opportunity to participate
in the decision process where in the dialogue
broadened, the leaders have an opportunity to
lead and the people to be heard, the issues of
change to be made clear, the alternatives dis-
cussed and inFormation to ²ow up and down the
hierarchy. And third, the needed skills must be
taught. Adults must be taught to read, children
educated, farmers must be taught the methods
of modern farming, training of both skilled and
unskilled workers etc (Schramm, 1964, pp. 125-
125). Further more, these three communication
tasks correspond to the three basic functions of
communication that Schramm talks about (the
watchman, decision maker and teacher func-
tions). These are the fundamental tasks of com-
munication. Among these basic tasks, which of
these tasks can the mass media do by themselves
and which can they only help to do?
1964, pp. 127-140).
The frst group oF tasks-the watchman, the in
forming functions are well within the realm
of the media directly within which, the media
can widen horizons, Focus a³ention and can
raise aspirations (of course, raising aspirations
is not fraught with danger, in that process
nothing could change except people’s expecta-
tions). However, it is also true that by carrying
political, economic, social and cultural reports
from elsewhere in the country and the world,
the media could also create a climate wherein
It must be noted that the assumption
that communication is one of the
vital elements towards the process of
development is assumed. This paper is
going with that idea.
Volumen 13 Número 1
Junio de 2010
A.F. Mathew
people could take another look at their current
practices and future perspectives (Schramm,
1964). The second group of fundamental tasks-
decision making functions are for most part a
function that the mass media can only help to
do. This is because this requires group decision,
the changing of strongly held aTitudes, beliefs,
social norms and hence here interpersonal com-
munication comes into play (Schramm, 1964,
pp. 127-140). Here the media helps in feeding
information into the discussion, thus playing an
indirect role in changing strongly held aTitudes
and valued practices. The third group of tasks-
the teaching function could be both direct as
well as indirect (in combination with interper-
sonal communication). For instance, in a class-
room, the media can only be a supplement to a
total educational experience under a
teacher but the media can substitute where in
schools and teachers are not available. Similarly,
radio cannot be a substitute to impart or teach a
new agricultural skill but radio can be of great
use for supplying additional information, re-
porting results etc. (Schramm 1964, pp. 127-140).
Development Communication:
Conceptual Evolution
From the 1940’s to the 60’s, the age of the big
media, the various communications approach
three areas (i) communication eFects approach
(ii) DiFusion of innovations approach and (iii)
Mass Media and the modernization approach
(Melkote, 1991, pp. 90-92).
In the communica-
tions eFects approach, the earliest models of
mass media eFects conceptualized the impact
of mass media as direct, powerful and uniform
on individuals living in “modern”, industrial
societies termed as “mass societies”. Also, the
earlier models (Lasswell, Shanon and Weaver
etc.) saw communication as a linear and one
way process ±owing from a powerful source to
a passive receiver (Melkote, 1991). After the II
world war, there was a change of opinion in the
sense that realization dawned that mass media
rather than being sole agents of aTitudinal and
behavioral change were more agents of rein-
Thus, early formulations did exhibit
conceptual shortcomings that “stem from es-
sentially the same idealist conception of history
that informs the main sociological approach”
(Hartmann, Patil and Dighe, 1989, p. 23). They
were simplistic and in su²cient accounts of so
cial and political dynamics of change and lacked
an adequate conception of the relationship be-
tween culture and social structure (Hartmann,
Patil and Dighe, 1989, p. 23).
However, the shift in emphasis regarding role
of mass media from one of dominant and pow-
erful in±uence to that of moderate or minimal
eFects did not make any signi³cant diFerence
of formulations advocating use of mass media
for development in the III world countries . The
view was that information and communication
can be transferred to ³elds such as agricultural
extension, health, education etc (Melkote, 1990).
DiFusions of innovations approach has im
portant theoretical links with eFects research,
wherein the ability of media and opinion lead-
ers to bring about knowledge and new ideas
among a target audience which would in turn
lead to its adoption (Melkote, 1991).
EvereTe Roger’s work is pioneering in this re
gard. He saw the diFusion of new ideas and
practices as a crucial component of the modern-
ization process
(cited in Hartmann, Patil and
Dighe, 1989, p. 25). Rogers applied further Ka´
Rogers applied further Katz and
Lazarsfeld’s two step Fow model that
is, the two step Fow process where the
more aware can be accessed by the
media and they in turn are instrumental
in spreading the message to others.
ISSN 0122-8285
The Case of Development Communication: Perspectives, Issues and Trends
and Lazarsfeld’s two step Fow model that is,
the two step Fow process where the more aware
can be accessed by the media and they in turn
are instrumental in spreading the message to
others. “From the media to the opinion leader
to the masses” (cited in Mcquail and Windahl,
1989, p. 49). This was applied by Rogers to the
study of the spread of agricultural innovations
among farmers in the United State, and he iden-
tifed the elements in the di±usion o² an innova
The fve stages being awareness, interest,
evaluation, trial and adoption which would, as-
suredly result in modernisation (cited in Hart-
mann, Patil and Dighe, 1989).
Further, the work that illustrated the moderniza-
tion approach was proposed by Daniel Lerner in
the “passing of Traditional Society” in 1958, a very
inFuential work that assigned a very important
role to communication (Ramos and Schramm,
1989, p. 12). Lerner identifed ²our critical vari
ables that he said summarized the development
process: urbanization leading to increased lit-
eracy which in turn a±ects mass media exposure
resulting in greater economic and political partic-
ipation. A simple linear process but Lerner’s most
important hypothesis has to do with the nature of
the ‘modern individual’ who is characterized by
an ability to accommodate to change plus a high
degree of empathy (Ramos and Schramm, 1989).
According to him, people in traditional societ-
ies could expand their empathy by exposure to
the mass media which in e±ect meant that mass
media, in the third world, had the potential of
bringing about modernization into isolated tradi-
tional communities and replacing the structure of
life, values and behaviour which one sees in the
western world (Melkote, 1991). Thus, research in
this tradition created high expectations for the
media’s role towards development benefts in
the third world. The whole approach up to the
60’s was that the media would make indigenous’
audiences react favorably to opening up to the
world and to the principles of market economy.
“The desired changes (developmental) were con-
nected to a vertical, elitist, relationship in which
the “strong” were “helping” and “weak” to be
seduced by the blessings of science and technol-
ogy, which were perceived as being exclusively
western “inventors” (Habib, 1993, p. 65).
In the 1970’s, it became abundantly clear that
a the socio-economic scenario had diminished
the promise of development communication.
Mass media proved not to be an independent
variable but itself was subject to various situ-
ational, political, social and economic factors
(Melkote, 1991, pp. 172-173). New approaches
were broached upon primarily because there
was wide ideological debate categories such as
(Habib, 1993, pp. 65-66) analysis of the owner-
ship of media structure, international structures
for transmission and production of informa-
tion, class analysis of the communication pro-
cess, the political economy of communications,
the appeal for an inauguration of a north south
dialogue towards a new world order of infor-
mation, all these started being discussed and
thought about, a process that continues till today
(Habib, 1993, pp. 65-66).
These debates arose
because of the rising belief that the communica-
tion models and theories are basically exported
²rom the frst world and that they were suited
only to explain the media phenomena in those
societies, rooted in that a cultural tradition.
There was then, a progressive reFection on the
“state of development” achieved up to the 60’s
wherein the situation of the very poor had only
but deteriorated.
From the 70’s the stress was on
(i) equity in distribution of information and other
In the 1970’s, it became abundantly
clear that a the socio-economic
scenario had diminished the promise of
development communication.
Volumen 13 Número 1
Junio de 2010
A.F. Mathew
benefts oF development (ii) active participation
of people at the grassroots (iii) Independence of
local communities to tailor development projects
to their own objectives and (iv) integration of
the old and new ideas, the traditional and mod-
ern systems suited to the needs of a community
(Melkote, 1991, pp. 225-226). Paulo Freire’s views
in the 60’s and 70’s also challenged critically com-
monly accepted notions of communication. He
condemned traditional literacy training as author-
itarian in which the teachers “deposit” the set of
values of the rich in the poor, who can later “cash
in” on those “deposits” for material goods given
to them as reward for passivity (Beltran, 1989).
Genuine communication, he said is free dialogue
actively sharing and reconstructing experience,
education is the creative discovery of the world,
not transmission of knowledge from the powerful
to the powerless. ±reire, in e²ect, proposed ‘con
scientisation’ as a democratic method for people
to gain collective awareness of natural and social
a method that is based on non-directed
discussion of individual and cultural problems
in small cultural circles, stimulated only by
‘generative words’ selected from the people’s
‘minimum thematic universe’ (Beltrán, 1989, p.
16). This would, in turn show the exploited that
society is changeable (Beltrán, 1989).
The interrelation of Freire’s ideas to the pro-
cess of development education is evident (Bel-
tran, 1989: 16). For example, Freire regarded
the transplantation of the agricultural extension
program of the United States as opposite to true
educational practice because it came with the as-
sumption that it came from the “seat of wisdom
to the seat of ignorance” (Beltrán, 1989, p. 16).
In summation, two paradigms on communica-
tion and development comes through in the evo-
lutionary process during the last fve decades
- the Modernisation Paradigm and the Depen-
dency Paradigm. The Modernisation Paradigm
spelled out development as a spontaneous, uni-
linear and irreversible process which in turn im-
plied functional specialisation (Servaes, 1996, p.
83). In this, development was to be stimulated
by external, endogenous factors and by internal
measures geared towards supporting modern
sectors and modernising traditional sectors (Ser-
vaes, 1996, p. 83).
In the Dependency Paradigm, the whole devel-
opment process was towards the philosophy of
disassociation from the world market in goal
of self-reliance as the most important perceived
obstacle to development are external to the un-
derdeveloped nation (Servaes, 1996). None of
these ‘paradigms’ explained the dismal record
of economic and social development in the third
For instance, by 1980, after two UN “De-
velopment Decades”, the developing countries
had accumulated a foreign debt of nearly $440
billion, a fgure that was only $68 billion in 1971
(Beltrán, 1989, p. 12). Three fourths of the world
population accounted for only 20 per cent of
the world’s gross product, and Asia, Africa
and Latin America, which were net exporters
of foodgrains before the second world war are
regions constantly a²ected by major Famines
today (Beltrán, 1989, p. 12). The entire dispar-
ity oF resources between the frst world and the
third world, gets extended to media too, imply-
ing a failure of communication as a factor to en-
courage development in the third world. Also,
it is not just a question of external exploitation
or scarcity of resources but also that of unequal
distribution of resources within the third world
(Beltrán, 1989). All these viewpoints, realisa-
tions and shifts in theory has resulted
in the
third approach/paradigm called the Multiplici-
ty Paradigm (Servaes, 1996, pp. 84-85). This par-
adigm spelled out the following (Servaes, 1996):
All nations are interdependent and conse-
quently, internal as well as external factors
in³uence the development process.
ISSN 0122-8285
The Case of Development Communication: Perspectives, Issues and Trends
The entire development process has to be stud-
ied in a global context wherein more aTention
should be paid to the content of develop-
ment implying a more normative approach.
Each society must develop its own devel-
opment strategy for there is no universal
model for development.
This new approach has emerged from the criticism
of the modernisation and dependency paradigms
and it should be seen from the perspective of self-
development of the local community through its
participation. Contemporary development com-
munication places a great deal of emphasis on self
help, and grass root participation. This has led to a
reexamination of the advantages of the traditional
media as vehicles for information, persuasion of
the rural masses (Melkote, 1991). Folk media is
part of the social milieu of the people, hence cred-
ible sources of information for the people. They
also generate grass root participation and a dia-
logue between performances and the audience.
±hey are also, fexible and hence, developmental
themes can be incorporated in them (Melkote,
1991). On the whole, development communica-
tion is and it should
be geared towards the ba-
sic needs of people and their participation.
A Theoretical Perspective
In light of the historical crisis of development in
terms oF di²erent paradigms mentioned above,
one could state that any theoretical construction
should re-examine the normative and histori-
cal contents of the two concepts of communica-
tion and development. The processes of social
communication and development are complex
processes that appear di²erent From the per
spectives oF the top/boTom or centre/periphery,
of a social system (Tehranian, 1996, pp. 49-51).
±he Following table aTempts to capture some oF
these contradictory perspectives:
Conficts oF interest and perception are thus at
the very centre of the development process and
they get refected in terms oF ideologies and com
Table 1
Contradictory Perspectives on Communication and Development Goals
Communication and Development Goals
Communication and Development Goals
Viewed from Top/Center
Viewed from Bo±om/Periphery
National security and power
Group/Individual choice and freedom
Social and political mobilization
Social mobility and political access/circulation
National unity and identity
Subnational unity and identity
Economic growth
Distributive justice
Political socialization
Political participation
Education/professional competence
Education/professional opportunities
Information control
Information access
Communication surveillance
Communication privacy
Government authority
Citizen power
Central authority and control
Regional and local autonomy
Cultural and artistic direction
Cultural and artistic creativity
(sometimes censorship)
(sometimes subversion)
Source: Tehrnian, 1996: 50
Volumen 13 Número 1
Junio de 2010
A.F. Mathew
(Tehranian, 1996). Table 1 reduces these pro-
cesses to three fundamental and contradictory
ones, viewed from the three perspectives top-
down, boTom-up and democratic perspectives.
If we consider the processes mentioned in Ta-
ble 2, the historical crisis of development can
be viewed as a distribution crisis is to fulFl the
promise of equality, a participation crisis to ful-
Fl the promise of freedom, and an integration
crisis to achieve a sense of community (Tehra-
nian, 1996, p. 50).
Table 2
Contradictory Processes and Perspectives in Development
Source: Tehranian, 1996: 51
Top-down Views
Botom-up Views
Democra±ic Views
Distribution: Equality
Participation: Freedom
Integration: Community
Culture in²uences
Social Structure
(Two way
strong media
(Media is
No casual
In terms of media theory, most of which relates
to both society and culture together. Obvious-
ly, society and culture are inseparable.
For the
present purpose, society refers to the material
base (economic, political resources and power)
to relationships in various social collectives (na-
tion, community and family) (Mcquail, 1994). It
has to be noted that the history of modern soci-
ety has usually been wriTen in terms of a ma
terially driven process, with society as a ‘base’
and culture as superstructure’. Culture, herein,
refers to other essential aspects of collective so-
cial life, especially to meanings and practices
(Mcquail, 1994). Mass communication can be
both societal and cultural phenomena (Rosen-
gren, 1981, pp. 47-63).
Rosengren identiFes four main option available
for describing mass media and society.
If we con-
sider mass media as an aspect of base, then it is
the option of materialism where in the culture is
dependent on the economic and power structure
of a society. What is then assumed is that whoever
owns or controls the media chooses and sets the
limit to what they do and can do. It is in the light
of the media content that the option of idealism
is presented. It is opposite to the earlier option
wherein, here, it is believed that it is the media
Social Structure Infuences Culture
ISSN 0122-8285
The Case of Development Communication: Perspectives, Issues and Trends
content, ideas and values conveyed by the media
that seen as a cause of social change, irrespective
of who owns and controls. Interdependence im-
plies that mass media and society are continually
interaction and infuencing each other, in which,
the media responds on a continuous basis to the
demands of society, also innovates to a changing
socio-cultural climate which in turn sets oF new
demands. The autonomy option does not go with
this view in the sense that it is likely that society
and mass media can vary independently upto a
point. This goes with the view of critics who are
skeptical about the power o± the media to infu
ence ideas, values or behaviors (Rosengern, 1981,
pp. 247-63).
Going further would be to seek a
frame of reference for connecting media and soci-
ety (Mcquail, 1994, pp. 7-8) as below:
The above representation points out to the fact
that media institutions are not independent
in re-
lation to the rest of society, they too being subject
to rules, infuences etc. All elements in the ²gure
are dependent on each other. People/masses
quire information and meaning of “reality” via
direct observation and experience, from institu-
tions directly, from institutions via the media
and ±rom the media autonomously and the infu
ence of larger events and of economic and politi-
cal forces comes partly channeled from the
media (Mcquail, 1994, p. 9)
However, what is am-
biguous in the representation is whether media
institutions would be able to assert itself minus
controls speci²ed when any such situation arises
(Mcquail, 1994). However, one must also recog-
nize that the media operates in a society where
the power structure is distributed unevenly be-
tween the classes. It is related to the prevailing
structure of political and economic power.
In this context, two models of media power one
of dominant media and the other of pluralist
media can be mentioned, ²gure as shown below
(Mcquail, 1994). The dominant media model sees
media as a subservient part of other institution
which themselves are interrelated. The media is
owned by a small number of powerful people
which disseminate a limited view of the ruling
classes. The masses are given a limited view,
with no critical feedback which results into an at-
tempt to legitimize the existing power structure.
The pluralist model is exactly the opposite where
it is held that there is no uni²ed and dominant
elite and change and control are both possible. In
this model, the masses can diFerentiate, initiate
demand and can react to what the media oFers
(Mcquail, 1994). This does not close, the option
of a “mixed approach” where mass domination
are within limits and counter forces are resisted
by the audience/masses (Mcquail, 1994).
The dominant media model refects the mass so
ciety view (Mcquail, 1994: 74). Mass society re-
fers to the relationship between individuals and
social order around them where in individuals
are presumed to be in a situation of ‘psychologi-
cal isolation’ from others, impersonality in their
interactions with others and are relatively free
from the demands of binding informal social ob-
ligations, view carried by some sociologists well
into the 20th century (DeFleur, Rokeach, 1989,
pp. 148-160). Pu³ing these ideas onto the media,
it would mean, an atomized public, centralized
media, one way transmission, media being used
for control and/or manipulation and people us-
ing media for identity (Mcquail, 1994, p. 75)
As for the Marxist perspective, power is central
to its interpretations of the media, that they are
an instrument to propagate the interests of the
ruling class. There is a direct link between own-
ership and dissemination of messages, in the
sense that content of media is also organized to-
wards further propagation of the interests of the
capitalist class (Herman and Chomsky, 1988).
In essence, Marxist view of the media could be
summed up by saying that media is owned by
the bourgeois, thus operating their class inter-
ests thus working towards false consciousness.
Media access is denied to the ideologically po-
litical opposition (Mcquail 1994, p. 77).
Volumen 13 Número 1
Junio de 2010
A.F. Mathew
The neo-Marxists go further to other ideas rath-
er than focus only on material structures. The
view is that media reproduces exploitative rela-
tionships and manipulation. It is an “ideologi-
cal state apparatus” which enables the capitalist
state to survive, this without the help of other
institutions like the army or police (Althusser,
1971). This is closely related to the concept of he-
gemony where there is an internally consistent
culture and ideology favorable to the dominant
elite/class (in Hoare and Smith, 1996). Gramsci
states that the relationship between the intellec-
tuals and the world of production is not as direct
as it is with fundamental social groups, but is in
varying degrees mediated by the whole fabric of
society, and by the complex of superstructures, of
which intellectuals are, precisely the “functionar-
ies” (in Hoare and Smith, 1996, p. 12).
There are
two major super structural “levels”, one that can
be called civil society (group of organisms called
“private”) and that of “political society” or the
Both these levels correspond to hegemo-
ny which the elite/dominant exercises in society.
The “intellectuals” are the dominant groups ex-
ercising the function of hegemony and political
government (in Hoare and Smith, 1996).
more, Gramsci explains that the “spontaneous”
consent given by the mass to the direction im-
posed on social life by the dominant group is
“historically” caused by the prestige and conf
dence the dominant group enjoy because of its
position and function in the world of production.
The functionalist theory of media says that
more an audience is reliant on the mass media
for information and more a society is in a state
of crisis then more the power the media is likely
to have. This functionalist approach has been
criticised for its inadequacy in dealing with is-
sues oF power and con±ict but one can see how
the media are functional in the exercise of pow-
er (Mcquail, 1994), (Functionalism claims to ex-
plain social practices and institutions in terms
of needs of the society and individual). As per
this view, media is considered essential to soci-
ety for integration, co-operation, order, control,
stability, mobilization, continuity of values and
culture (Mcquail, 1994: 81).
Select Examples of Development
Communication from the Developing
From the very beginning, mass media for devel-
opment communication was seen as a substi-
tute For unavailable teachers, feld agents or as a
complement to inadequately trained personnel
Societal source
Dominant elite/Ruling classes
Competing political social,
cultural interests a group
Under concentrated ownership
Many and independent to each other
Standardised, controlled
Free, “creative” Original
Content and world view
Selective and uniform
Diverse, competing views,
respective to audience demands
Dependent, passive organised on a scale
Fragmented, selective, reactive/active
Strong and confrmative oF
Numerous, without consistency
established social order.
of predictability of direction but
oFten no e²ect.
ISSN 0122-8285
The Case of Development Communication: Perspectives, Issues and Trends
(Hornik, 1989). In the early years, radio or tele-
vision was an enrichment to existing classroom
might include a dramatic presentation of some
event in the nation’s history to enrich the so-
cial sciences’ curriculum. This approach, how-
ever, was contributory in the developed nation
but would it ft into third world schools which
are plagued with lack of resources, facilities
and high drop out rates? (Hornik, 1989, p. 18).
But there have been examples of constructive
and supportive use of mass media in the third
Some select examples are cited below.
Two oF the most signifcant and long lasting
experience with development communication
started in 1948 in Columbia and Bolivia. Inciden-
tally, in Latin America the communication media
are characterized by opulence rather than misery
(Roncagliolo, 1993, p. 33). In the sense that, on an
average, one out of every three people in Latin
America owns a radio and one out of every seven
people owns a television set, broadcast time or
four times the viewing time of Latin countries in
Europe (Spain, France Italy, Portugal, and Ru-
mania) and also there is excess of television sta-
tions. Bolivia, for instance, has one of the highest
television channels per-viewer rates, more than
one television channel for every 10,000 view-
ers (Roncagliolo, 1993, p. 33). It has to be noted,
here, that in a consumer society, all the above
fgures are only remotely related to socio eco
nomic level of development (Roncagliolo, 1993).
Coming back to actual media projects in devel-
opment in 1948, in Colombia, a parish priest,
Joaquin Salcedo established one of the most sig-
nifcant communication For development project
(Beltrán, 1993). The priest established a rudi-
mentary broadcasting station for peasants in an
Andean village. This
Radio Sutatenza had the
purpose of expanding Catholic indoctrination
and helping reduce illiteracy (Beltrán, 1993).
Gradually, it picked up and this individual ini-
tiative evolved to become the Accion Cathedral
Popular (ACPO) which is one oF the most in±u
ential multimedia institutions of non-formal dis-
tance education for rural development, whose
strategy was group discussion and listening of
special programs assisted by a local trainee and
print materials (Beltrán,1993). These initiatives
led to many more in Latin America.
Some are
brie±y noted below (Beltrán, 1993, pp. 16-18):
In Uruguay Mario Kaplun designed and
tested a new strategy: rural casse²e Fo
rums which was a low cost procedure for
dialogue of at distance among members of
peasant co-operatives.
In Ecuador, a Catholic Priest led the small,
isolated Indian community to participate in
broadcasting by recording news messages
and brief programs in their own villages and
then sending them to a central station.
In Bolivia, peasants rented the early morn-
ings (hours) of commercial broadcast stations
in La Paz and in Aymara, they undertook an
unusual and pioneering exercise in demo-
cratic communication when they
through radio the equivalent to the postal,
telegraph and telephone services not avail-
able in the countryside.
In Peru, Michacl Azcueta and others built a
whole system of remarkable grassroots com-
munications in a huge Lima slum populated by
migrant native peasants.
The Popular Culture Action
of Honduras (ACPH)
This was inspired by the earlier mentioned Co-
lombian experiment.
It was White (1976) (cited In
Jamison and McanaUy,
1978: 79-84) who under-
took an evaluation of ACPH, which was a long
term evaluation.
White states that in Honduras,
the large landholder as the key powerholder and
link with the urban elite, as is the case generally
Volumen 13 Número 1
Junio de 2010
A.F. Mathew
in Latin America. He points out that with the
coming of “modernisation” and the greater con-
centration of land and technology in the hands
the landlords, the peasant’s level of subsistence
worsened (Jamison and Mcanuy, 1978, p. 79).
During the 60’s, the ACPH began focussing on
issues such as literacy, health, and raising the
campesino’s (peasant) level of consciousness
(Jamison and Mcanuy, 1978). It was noted in the
evaluation study, that the ACPH along with its
companion peasant movement Popular Promo-
tion Movement (PPM) moved from the original
emphasis on literacy to stages of Freirean con-
sciousness raising, community organizing to a
fnal action oriented, pressure group phase oF
pushing for greater social and economic power
(cited In Jaimison and Mcanauy 1978, p. 79).
White evaluated the e±ectiveness oF the literacy
work of the radio schools for the ten year period
(1961-70) by taking a sample of 595 students
(or ex) of ACPH and testing them for literacy
It was found that those who, had
at least
one or two years of regular school, that made
the di±erence to literacy aTainment rather than
only radio classes.
It was argued that the PPM
policy after 1972, to organize and pressure the
government for land, should make literacy
more relevant in Honduras (cited in Jamison
and Mcanauy 1978, p. 82).
It was found that in radio school villages knowl-
edge was high in health and agriculture but only
in health were they higher in practice, when
compared to non radio villages.
The lack of suc-
cess of ACPH/PPM in farm practice was because
knowledge without resource inputs does not
help the farmer. For organisation principles for
collective action, it was found that radio villages
had a higher level oF consciousness, did not fnd
apparent greater organizational skills in radio
villages but did fnd that radio villages had car
ried out more community projects. However, it
was noted that direct political work among the
peasants did not take place.
They were not pre-
pared by the programmes.
On the whole, “the
ACPH/PPM helped create a new “campesino”
culture and helped develop a participating de-
cision making structure and helped develop a
base for interest group action” (Jamison and
Mcanauy, 1978, p. 83).
Cuban Media and Education
Before the revolution, Cuban television and ra-
dio was already well developed. In 1959, after
the revolution the Radio and TV Commission
was established and an experimental project
in educational television was launched for pri-
mary school viewing. Teleclasses with support-
ing wriTen material were given, classes were
broadcast daily, one subject per day for half an
hour. A daily newspaper “free press” published
every Friday the week’s schedule.This was also
extended to junior high schools in a similar man-
A 1960 survey revealed that an average au-
dience was of 2,00,000 persons, two-thirds of
them teacher and students and the remaining
third adults who had no direct links with the ex-
isting educational system (Gerbner, 1977).
In 1961, the year of education, the well known
campaign was initiated.
Television and
radio played a complementary role in the dis-
semination of literacy training programs. Live
coverage of literacy worker and students was
used to dramatise and this was reinforced on
radio and in newspapers.
Of the 4,50,000 adults
Before the revolution, Cuban television
and radio was already well developed.
In 1959, after the revolution the Radio
and TV Commission was established and
an experimental project in educational
television was launched for primary
school viewing.
ISSN 0122-8285
The Case of Development Communication: Perspectives, Issues and Trends
enrolled in the adult education courses, about
3,00,000 were reached by teleclasses.
After the
initial basic courses, specialized courses were
also broadcast.
In 1966, the media played a major role in the
“schools of the countryside” program which
was frst implemented in the province oF Cama
guey (Gerbner, 1977).
That was aimed at reduc-
ing di±erences between city and country and
for educating new generation in and for work.
All this and more resulted in puTing great
strain on the secondary level in 1969 (earlier
a huge number of students had entered at the
primary level).
This great demand for teachers
and schools was flled up by television and ra
dio (Gerbner, 1977). Teleteachers were trained
and also, in the classrooms more advanced stu-
dents acted as monitors to clarify material and
help students.
This entire exercise was coordi-
nated by the Cuban Ministry of Education and
the Cuban Broadcasting Institute (ICR). The
Cuban example is a pointer to how supportive
the media could be towards a common, collec-
tive and mobilized developmental goal, but one
must be aware of the socio-political context that
the whole process took place. The revolutionary
spirit abeTed the whole process.
The Liberian Rural
Communication Network
The Liberian Rural Communication Network
(LRCN) consisted of a network of three 10,000
waT stations supported by a central production
in Monrovia.
Even though the administrative
unit was in the capital but three fourths pro-
gramming emanated from local stations. The
stations broadcast a total of six hours in the
morning and evening and each station estab-
lished a strong local identity and was guided in
its programming by local advisory commiTees
(La²in, 1993, p. 105). ³he main sources oF Fund
ing was from the government of Liberia. LCRN
was designed to promote community develop-
ment in several ways: (i) Promoting increased
use of government services by the rural popu-
lation (LRCN worked closely with government
services) (ii) Expanding the access to develop-
ment and other services to a greater portion of
the rural population. Towards this, LRCN al-
ways tried to ensure that both urban as well as
rural areas were well served. Village stringers
were recreated and trained and listening groups
A majority of 55% of rural Liberi-
ans who listened to LRCN stations considered
the programmes as their primary source of de-
velopment inFormation (La²in, 1993, p. 105) (iii)
Increasing communication between villages and
the local, regional and national governments.
Rural people were provided access through
interviews in special programs which was in
turn seen by government o´cials at the highest
level. LRCN was also instrumental in increasing
self help activities and promoted establishment
oF vegetable gardens, village health commiTees,
individual clinics, hospitals, local drama groups
and soccer teams. (v) News, especially of local
revelance was disseminated through LRCN.
The impact was much higher than expected and
it was observed that more people were bringing
their children to be immunized, visiting fam
planning clinics, asking for fertilizer etc. An in-
dependent evaluation showed that there was
narrowing of the knowledge gap about family
planning, health, agriculture and nutrition be-
tween urban and rural listeners, that there was a
daily listening audience of 55%, a regular listener
The impact was much higher than
expected and it was observed that more
people were bringing their children to
be immunized, visiting family planning
clinics, asking for fertilizer etc.
Volumen 13 Número 1
Junio de 2010
A.F. Mathew
ship of about 75% and that most of the success
achieved was because traditional sources of in-
formation was the primary source for many is-
sues (Lafin, 1993, p. 107). Hence, the programme
could be deemed as successful as long as the dem-
ocratic system/spirit prevailed but as is the case in
many third world nations, Liberia too fell into the
abyss of civil war further crippling the emanci-
pation process through development.
In retrospect, the ACPH and LRCN development
communication projects were within the frame-
work of the concept of Development Support
Communication (mentioned earlier). In the sense
that, it went with the view that planned and or-
ganised communication held the key to develop-
ment projects. The Cuban experience could come
under the purview of Alternative Communica-
tion for the experiment was designed with the
idea of people’s mobilisation and towards en-
hancing the masses’ access and participation in
the communication process.
An ‘End Note’
When one sees the present world status in terms
of the social, political or economic, one does one
wonder the ‘future’ of Development Communi-
cation. About one billion people are living in ut-
ter poverty and some 70 percent of world income
produced, is being consumed by 15 percent of
the world’s population (Golding, 1996, p. 82). In
mass communications too, the Fgures are alarm
For example, book production is dominat-
ed by Europe and the United States, half of the
production of newspapers remains in the west.
Africa has just one percent of the world’s news-
paper circulation, Africa has just 3.7 percent of
the radios and 1.3 percent of television sets with
12.1 percent of the population whereas Europe
and the US together with 20.1% of the popula-
tion has two thirds of the total of the world’s
television and radio (Golding, 1996, pp. 82-83.)
The Internet also provides a similar picture. In
terms of number of networks linked to the inter-
net there is a vast discrepancy. The United States
has the largest with 17,902, UK having 1,395,
Russia, 229, Japan 1,379, Chile 47, Kuwait 5 and
China three networks linked to the net (Strasser,
1994, p. 23). In terms of users, there were, as per
internet society estimates, only 0.002 users
1000 inhabitants in India compared to 48.9 in
Sweden (cited in Golding, 1996).
However the emphatic vision that is the “infor-
mation Highway” has grown phenomenally with
the World Wide Web. This refers to an enormous-
ly expanded system of interactive communica-
tion based on the convergence of the personal
computer, the telephone and the television, with-
in a single network (Dawson and Foster, 1996,
p. 41). The expectation of business and
ment planners is that eventually most personal
computers will be connected into an interactive
network that transcends the present internet.
The general technological character of the new
system is not in doubt, nor is there any doubt
about the potential of the new technology to
revolutionize human communication; but be-
ing aware of the existing vast gap between the
have nots
, it is debatable as to what
purpose the system will serve or who will ben-
eFt (Dawson and ±oster, 1996). “Indeed, history
has shown that every technological revolution
in communications-no maTer what its potential
for democratization has been-has lent itself to
the growth of new monopolizes of information
when inscribed within existing system of social
and economic power. Whether this will happen
once again will not be determined by the nature
Another pertinent question that needs
to be asked is that is it feasible for
countries possessing a billion peasants
to invest vast sums on the technologies
like the Information Highway when
even basic indicators in health,
education, etc., have not been achieved.
ISSN 0122-8285
The Case of Development Communication: Perspectives, Issues and Trends
of the technology itself but by the degree of de-
termination and organisation of popular forces”
(Dawson and Foster 1996, p. 42).
Another pertinent question that needs to be
asked is that is it feasible for countries possess-
ing a billion peasants to invest vast sums on
the technologies like the Information Highway
when even basic indicators in health, education,
etc., have not been achieved. Other related is-
sues concerning the third world also remain;
that of corrupt regimes, the persistent consoli-
dation of exploitative ruling elites, protection
of special interests, military spending, bureau-
cratic ineptitude etc. (Kennedy, 1993, p. 61). Un-
til profound changes occur, it is hard to foresee
when Ethiopian based companies fush with
funds and talent begin to move into Japan or the
US, to take their historic turn at the centre of the
global economic stage (Kennedy, 1993, p. 61).
Media use in development process has enormous
scope. Media/mass communication cannot exist
by itself or solve the problems of development
by itself. One cannot exclude social, cultural, po-
litical and economic factors. Development com-
munication should be integrated as part of the
broader system of developmental planning and
community programs. One must not overlook
the aspect of cooption through the aid of media
within systems. Development Communication
Programmes should not aid the aspect of coop-
tion consciously or unconsciously. Thus, it be-
comes evident that the utility of the media and
the way it is used depends upon the political will
exercised. A considerable amount of progres-
sive political will is required for the constructive
use of mass communications for developmental
purposes towards the goal of emancipation of
the underprivileged.
From the case studies of the Cuban, Liberian
and the Honduras experiment, one gathers that
it is
imperative that media be taken to the de-
prived areas where the oppressed could not only
have access but also participate in the develop-
mental process. The evaluation of these develop-
mental projects reveals that media inputs did help
in a major way to spread awareness, literacy and
knowledge. A vertical trajectory that descends
from the city to the village or from the rich to the
poor would not work while employing the me-
dia for developmental purposes. There should be
constant feedback and grassroots participation.
Hence, it follows that while project planning takes
place, the local cultural milieu should only be
kept in mind. Only the local language, customs,
culture should be adopted otherwise acceptabil-
ity to that developmental media project will not
be there. Development communication theory/
models should, hence, be rooted within the lo-
cal cultural milieu rather than as western models
that needs to be applied to third world seTings.
One must also recognize the fact that develop-
ment communication is expensive especially
when it comes to satellites or computer commu-
nications. However, there is need to establish a
basic infrastructure for media in the third world.
Without doubt, it would only pay if essential in-
vestments are made towards infrastructure in this
Feld as the beneFts would only pay in the long
run. The vast disparity and widening inequali-
ties and the reasons why they have occurred,
must be recognised and all tools of development
communication should be Frst geared to tackle
these issues. Until then the concept of global vil-
lage would remain an elusive myth. What is also
crucial is the vital question as to what is the role
of media in a system which has given us Bosnia,
Chechnya, Darfur, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan,
Kashmir or many such examples?
Althuser, L. (1971). “Ideology and Ideological
State Apparatus”,
Lenin and Philolsophy and Oth-
er Essays
. London: W.Left Books.
Volumen 13 Número 1
Junio de 2010
A.F. Mathew
Beltrán, Luis Ramiro. (1989). “Alternative Sys-
International Encyclopedia of Communication
New York: Oxford University Press, Vol. 2.
Beltrán, Luis Ramiro. (1993).
Cultural Expression
in the Global Village
, (ed). David Nostbakken and
Charles Morrow. Penang: Southbound Publish-
ers, pp. 9-31.
DeFleur, Melvin and Rokeach, Sandra. (1994),
Gerbner, George. (1977).
Mass Media Policies in
Changing Cultures
. New York: John Wiley and
Sons, pp. 131-133.
Golding. Peter. (1996). “World Wide Wedge:
Development and Contradiction in the Global
Information Infrastructure”,
Monthly Review
Vol. 58, No. 3, July-Aug.
Habib, Jacques. (1993),
Cultural Expression in the
Global Village
. (ed.). David Nostbakken and Charles
Morrow. Penang: Southbound Publishers.
Hartmann, Paul; Patil, B.R.; and Dighe, Amita.
The Mass Media and Village Life
, New Del-
hi: Sage Publications.
Hoare, Quintin and Smith, GeoFrey (eds.). (1996),
Selections from the Prison Notebook of Gramsci
Madras: Orient Longman Ltd.
Hornik, Robert, C. (1989). “Projects”,
tional Encyclopedia of Communication.
New York:
Oxford University Press.
Jamison, Dean, T., Mcauany, Emile, G. (1978).
Radio for Education and Development.
Sage Publishers.
Kennedy, Paul. (1993).
Cultural Expression in the
Global Village
. (ed.). David Nostbakken and Charles
Morrow. Penang: Southbound Publishers.
Mcquail, Dennis. (1994).
Mass Communication
. London: Sage Publications.
Mcquail, Dennis; Windahl, Sven. (1989).
muncation Models
. New York: Longman.
Melkote, Srinivas. (1991).
Communication for
Development in the Third World
, New Delhi:
Sage Publications, pp. 90-92, 172-173, 225-227,
(1989). “History and Theories”,
International En-
cyclopedia of Communication
. New York: Oxford
Univesity Press, Vol. 2.
Roncagliolo, Rafael. (1993).
Cultural Expression
in the Global Village
. (ed.). David Nostbakken
and Charles Morrow. Penang: Southbound
Rosengren, K. E. (1981). “Mass Media and So-
cial Changes, Some Current Approaches”, in E.
KalT and ±. Szesko (eds.).
Mass Media and Social
. London: Sage Publishers.
Schramm, Wilbur. (1964).
Mass Communication
and National Development
. California: Stanford
University Press.
Servaes, Jan. (1996). “Participatory Communica-
tion Research with Social Movements”, in
ticipatory Communication for Social Change
. (ed.).
Servaes, J. Jacobson, T. and White, S. London:
Sage Publications.
Strasser, Steven. (1994). “Can you dial us in?
. New York: June 6, pp. 20-23.
Participation and Development”, in
tory Communication for Social Change
. (ed.). Ser-
vaes, J. Jacobson, T. and White, S. London: Sage