In Africa, support for media freedom declines to a minority view, Afrobarometer surveys show

Across Africa, popular support for media freedom has dropped to below half of adults, according to new Afrobarometer findings from across the continent.

In the sixth of its Pan-Africa Profiles 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.

Declines in support for unfettered media were recorded in 25 of 31 countries tracked since 2011, including steep drops in Tanzania (-33 percentage points), Cabo Verde, Uganda, and Tunisia. While 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 suggest.

The new report, available at www.afrobarometer.org, also analyzes Africans’ news habits, showing that radio remains ahead of television as the most widely accessed source of news. Use of the Internet and social media as news sources is expanding, but a large digital divide still disadvantages poorer, less-educated, older, rural, and female citizens.