tricity and telephone lines, but the cost of most forms of technology makes household access prohibitively expensive in many parts of the developing world (United Nations Development Programme, 1999).
The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) include questions on whether respondents watch television at least once a week, read the newspaper at least once a week, or listen to the radio every day. Furthermore, the DHS household surveys recorded household ownership of televisions, radios, and telephones, providing an indicator of household access to these forms of media. One of the most striking results of the surveys is the large number of young people, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, who do not have access to any of these three media (Table 6-10).25 Household ownership of televisions and radios was lowest in these regions, leaving young people largely dependent on accessing these forms of technology at a neighbor’s house or other local common viewing areas. In contrast, household ownership of radios was higher then ownership of televisions in all regions except the former Soviet Asia, pointing to its lower cost and reliance on batteries instead of electricity. Across sub-Saharan Africa the radio was the most commonly accessed medium, with more young people listening to radio daily than had regular access to television.
Television and radio have long been employed to disseminate political information and organize political involvement, from broadcasting campaign messages and encouraging voter turnout on election days to providing forums for political debate. For example, radio programs have been used in countries as diverse as Zambia and the Dominican Republic to educate the public about the government, political parties, and the election cycle (Bratton et al., 1999; Finkel, 2002).
Although household ownership of radios roughly corresponds to the number of young people reporting that they listened to the radio regularly, the number who watched television was much higher than household ownership. This means that many may go to a neighbor’s house or some type of community center in order to watch television. This is a particularly interesting arena for future research; audience research in developed countries has shown that the social interaction of group viewing and the subsequent discussion of television programs have an important relationship to the interpretation of the message (Lull, 1988). The way in which young people talk about television often bears a strong relationship to attitudes toward civic engagement (Buckingham, 2000). Not only is this likely to be the context in which many political and civic identities are forged, but it is also an opportunity to promote social connectedness.