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The South African press has played an important role in the political history of the country, and emerged from decades of censorship in the mid 1990s. In 2005 the South African press was ranked 31st in Reporters Without Borders index of worldwide press freedom, placing it alongside the likes of Australia and New Zealand.
The majority of South African newspapers are owned by four major news corporations. Each South African city has at least one major daily newspaper, with many cities having up to three newspapers in wide circulation. Sunday papers tend to have a wider distribution with major titles available throughout the country.
There are over 30 newspaper titles in circulation in South Africa. The majority of these are printed in English, with newspapers also available in Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu. Tabloid newspapers made a belated appearance on the South African news scene after 1994 and have since developed a strong following.
The birth of the South African newspaper industry can be traced back to 1800 when the governor of the then Cape Colony commissioned the Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser. The newspaper industry expanded rapidly over the following decades and by 1840 South Africa had its first privately owned newspaper as well as the first Dutch and African language newspapers.
During the Apartheid era all mass media were subjected to censorship, leading many to subscribe to 'underground' publications and newsletters published by activist groups. The fall of the Apartheid system in the early 1990s saw a slackening of censorship laws, however government interference in the reporting of politically sensitive issues remains a concern in the country.
Four corporations, NASPERS, Independent News and Media, Avusa Publishing and CTP Caxton collectively publish the majority of the 1.3 million newspapers purchased in South Africa every day. There are also a few independent newspapers published weekly, most notably the Mail & Guardian.
Major South African Newspapers include: