A majority of Tanzanians support a critical and independent news media, but that support has weakened as more citizens express a desire for less negative news reporting, according to the latest Afrobarometer survey.
Two-thirds of Tanzanians say the media should constantly investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption, and a majority say the media should report any views and ideas without government control. But on both issues, support is significantly lower in 2014 than it was in 2012. Tanzanians also express satisfaction with effectiveness of the media’s performance of its watchdog role, and a majority express confidence in reliability of news reports.
These results come amidst public debate about state’s growing infringement of space for critical independent speech and dissent. Tanzania will likely have its first-ever freedom of information act approved by the Parliament this year after more than 5 years of delays in finalizing its drafting by the government. A Statistics Act, passed by Parliament in March 2015, has been criticized for imposing restrictive conditions on the use of official statistics, spurring concerns that an equally restrictive freedom of information act might impinge on individual and media freedoms.
Tanzanians are satisfied with the level of individual freedom of speech in the country; 96% say they feel somewhat or completely free.
Two-thirds (65%) in 2014 say the media should constantly investigate and report on government corruption and mistakes (Figure 2). Compared to 2012, this proportion is 15 percentage points lower. During the same period, the proportion expressing concern that too much negative reporting only harms the country rose from 18% to 31%
Slightly over half (53%) of Tanzanians say the media should have the right to publish any news and ideas without government control (Figure 3), compared to 73% in 2012. During the same period, those favouring government control of the media rose from 26% in 2012 to 44%.
A stable majority (65% in 2014 compared to 67% in 2012) trust in reliability of news media reports (Figure 4).
Three fourths (76%) commend effectiveness of the media in investigating and reporting on corruption. This is however 8 percentage points lower compared to the level of popular approval of media effectiveness in 2012.
To read the summary of the survey click here.
See presentation attached below