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Masters Thesis Title:

THE DISH WATCHERS: Free-toAir

Satellite Television Use and Its Influence on the Media Preferences and World Outlook of Viewers
By: Addisalem Tebikew Yallew E-mail: addisworld@gmail.com Submitted to: The Graduate School of Journalism and Communication at Addis Ababa University Submitted in: November 2009

ABSTRACT
Satellite communication knows no boundaries. And when applied to television, it has been an agent of globalization that has brought people and events around the world closer to one another. This paper analyses the use and possible impacts of free-to-air satellite television on the watches media preferences and on the way they view themselves and the rest of the world. Using quantitative survey and qualitative focus group discussions, the paper attempts to give a comprehensive analysis of the individual audience as well as the social context of watching by using the uses and gratifications and ethnographic audience research approaches.

The findings show that demographic variables such as age, gender and religion have their impacts on the cognitive and affective uses and gratifications the watchers sought after from their dishes. The overall analysis indicates that the audiences use the dish more to gratify their cognitive needs than affective ones. It was also found out that in the face of the ever expanding free-to-air satellite television use the state-run broadcaster (ETV) is losing its audiences to the dishes. The focus group discussions revealed that the audiences of the free-to-air satellite television seem to be watching the content they receive taking into consideration their lived reality. Unlike the thoughts articulated in the cultural imperialism thesis, the watchers seem to be

active decoders of the content they receive from the dish. The findings also support the idea that the imperialism thesis is overly simplistic, for as it is found out, the watchers seem to be highly varied in their choices and outlooks. On the importance of the system for them, many of the watchers stated the dishes role as their biggest bridge to get connected with the rest of the world as the best advantage they get. Their dishes have brought them global news and entertainment closer to home at an affordable price.

On the other hand, the family use of the dishes seems to be marred with conflicts that arise due to differences in taste. This, in addition to the impact of the dish as an alternative to avoid the national television has led to the conclusion that the dish while connecting the watchers to the world, seems to be playing a disconnecting role at two levels: it has become a destructing element in family relations, and it is also disconnecting the watchers from local happenings in the country.