The rise and demise of Scope magazine: a media-historical perspective

02 October 2012

During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Scope magazine became a South African publishing icon. It challenged the censorship laws of the time with pin-up pictures of bikini-clad girls and star-covered breasts. During the 1990s, when the apartheid regime was on its way out, other magazines pushed the boundaries much further. to defend its circulation, Scope became more risqué, to the point where full-frontal nudity was published. Something gave and circulation slumped. In reaction, the publishers repositioned Scope as an up-market magazine for males in 1995. Its circulation all but disappeared, leading to the magazine's closure in 1996. The article records this history by noting the changing content of the magazine and the role played by Scope's editors and a succession of censors. Answers are sought to the question why the magazine could not survive the press freedom it fought for. It is concluded that Scope's demise could be attributed to various factors, but it is suggested that a pending empowerment deal may well have been a decisive reason.