Africa
Tanzania
-
Index 2022
123/180
Score : 48.28
Political indicator
135
43.88
Economic indicator
136
32.65
Legislative indicator
143
45.09
Social indicator
122
59.20
Security indicator
105
60.56
Index 2021
124/180
Score : 59.31
N/A
Indicators not available because the calculation method was changed in 2022

After the sudden death in March 2021 of President John Magufuli, who had become increasingly authoritarian and hostile towards the media, Samia Suluhu Hassan’s rise to power brought initial hopeful signs that have yet to come to fruition.

 

Media landscape

After the sudden death in March 2021 of President John Magufuli, who had become increasingly authoritarian and hostile towards the media, Samia Suluhu Hassan’s rise to power brought initial hopeful signs that have yet to come to fruition.

Political context

With 257 newspapers, 200 radio stations, 46 TV channels, 474 online TV channels and around 100 news websites at the start of 2022, Tanzania has a rich and dynamic media landscape. YouTube channels like Ayo TV and Global TV are increasingly popular, but they tend to favour entertainment over independent and quality news reporting.

Legal framework

Many media outlets are owned by politicians or are influenced by them. This undermines editorial independence and results in biased coverage. During the 2015 presidential election campaign, the travel expenses of almost all journalists were covered by political parties. The government systematically blocks access to state-held information of public interest when it concerns security or development issues.

Economic context

Journalists are paid little and their jobs are precarious. The government plays a major role in the economy of the media. Privately owned newspapers often get between 40 and 80% of their income from state advertising. Those that stray from the government line see these resources evaporate. The information minister nonetheless announced in February 2022 that the government would distribute its advertising more fairly.

Sociocultural context

A widespread culture of silence makes it very difficult to do investigative reporting on issues of public interest, and the coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced this climate. President Magufuli decided to stop providing information about the pandemic’s spread in Tanzania, while at the same time referring openly in his speeches to the theory of a “conspiracy of the West”.

Safety

Media outlets that criticise the authorities face possible suspension – of which there have been about 20 cases since 2015 – and journalists face arrest. A cartoonist was detained arbitrarily for two weeks in 2021 because of a drawing showing the president under the influence of a predecessor. Investigative reporter Erick Kabendera spent seven months in jail in 2019 after writing critically about the country’s economy, governance and corruption. The authorities displayed absolutely no concern about Azory Gwanda, a journalist who disappeared in November 2017 while investigating the murders of local officials in a coastal region.