Broadcasting the Pandemic tells the story of a South African television show, Beat It! Created during the aspirational years of the political transition in which the broadcast media were poised to democratize the airwaves, Beat It! was first screened on public television in 1999 and developed into one of the most powerful health education initiatives in contemporary history. Broadcasting the Pandemic traces the show’s evolution, exploring how Beat It! used the medium of television to inform its viewers about HIV at a time of increasingly rapid infection rates, but in which government education and treatment campaigns were largely absent.
Broadcasting the Pandemic pioneers a new methodology in scholarship about South Africa – using a television programme to explore the history of AIDS activism and policy. It provides a contemporary history of television in South Africa, and of its role in the most influential social movement to have emerged from the democratic transition: the HIV activist movement. Its content will interest readers from a wide array of disciplines, including African Studies, journalism, public health, sociology, cultural studies and the history of medicine.