Afrobarometer shows decline in media support

Popular support for media freedom across Africa has dropped to below half of adults, according to new Afrobarometer findings.

In the sixth of its Pan-Africa Profile series based on recent public-opinion surveys in 34 African countries, Afrobarometer reports that media-freedom supporters are now outnumbered by those who believe governments should have the right to prevent publications they consider harmful.

It alleges that declines in support for unfettered media were recorded in 25 of 31 countries tracked since 2011. 

Many Africans believe that media in their countries have more freedoms today than they did several years ago, this is more often seen as problematic than as progress, the data suggests.

The new report also analyses Africans’ news habits, showing that radio remains ahead of television as the most widely accessed source of news while the use of the internet and social media as news sources is said to be expanding. 

However a large digital divide still disadvantages poorer, less-educated, older, rural and female citizens.

Lesotho’s Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) on the other hand also recently launched Lesotho’s first home grown analysis of the media landscape through the African Media Barometer (AMB), which unveiled a number of appalling challenges the local media faces. 

These included the implementation of the media policy and improving the working conditions and remuneration of local media practitioners. 

The analysis also shows that working conditions for journalists leave much to be desired as salaries in most private media houses can be as low as M1 500 (around100USD) for an entry level reporter with a first degree.

The report also proposes revival of the regional media body, unions and other key media professional bodies and that a trade union be housed within an existing organisation for a period spanning two to three years to enable it to pick up momentum for growth and effectiveness.

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