National governments remain the single biggest source of earnings for information businesses in Africa. In Rwanda, by way of instance, a staggering 85-90 percent of marketing revenue comes in the public sector.
In Kenya, it is estimated that 30 percent of newspaper revenue comes in authorities advertisements.
At a court, allegedly delivered to all authorities accounting officials, the directive has been granted that state agencies and departments could just promote in My.Gov – a government paper and internet portal.
It is hard to not characterize the withdrawal of state advertisements from commercial websites as punitive. With this revenue stream papers are most likely to fold.
Worse still, attempts to draw government advertisements from commercial media could be translated as a worrying means to undermine the freedom of expression.
Starving news websites of earnings is a way of indirect state management. However, to fully understand the connection between authorities spend online and press freedom it is important to bring a historical standpoint.
Ever since that time, most African governments have grown worried about their inability to restrain the neighborhood news schedule, much less articulate government coverage.
For authorities in nations like Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and much more lately Tanzania, controlling the information agenda is considered a way to remain in power. Views which compete with the country position tend to throw as legitimizing the resistance agenda.
This is a portion of a much wider strategy for political management which Africanist historians and political scientists have predicted the “ideology of sequence”. This relies on the grounds that dissent is a danger to nation building and must hence be diminished.
The story was popularized by the majority of post-independence African authorities and highlighted through incessant calls for that which they needed to call “unity”.
Back in Kenya, former president Daniel Moi even chased his own political doctrine of “peace, unity and love”. Citizens were expected to take this story. Dissenting views were undermined via state-controlled media like Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and papers like the Kenya Times.
The present political climate on the continent will be premised on constitutional safeguards such as the security of free speech that make such punishments improbable in the current moment.
Many nations now have institutional safeguards including rather powerful judicial systems capable of resisting the tyranny of nude state repression.
Consequently, the press is regulated in subtler approaches and its own violence is milder. It is against this backdrop that I translate the withdrawal of authorities adverts in the business press in Kenya.
Controlling Media Budgets
In Kenya, the conclusion followed a particular cabinet meeting that agreed a new paper would be started to pronounce the government schedule more correctly.
The government also contended that the transfer was a part of an initiative to curtail runaway spending by decreasing advert invest in Kenya’s mainstream press and directing all of the cash to the new name.
A similar movement has been made in South Africa a year ago once the government’s communications arm declared it would scale government advertisements in local industrial press.
Rather, advertisements could be carried from the government paper Vuk’uzenzele. The conclusion withdrew an estimated $30 million in the nation’s commercial paper market.
The South African authorities also promised that the movement was made to decrease government spending. However, critics have contended the choice was made to penalize a media outlet that has been especially critical of President Jacob Zuma’s presidency.
In both states the choices have struck a particularly hard time for the press sector, providing authorities with all the ideal tool with which to control the media.
Can A Free Press Live
Industrial information media is moving through a period of unprecedented emergency. The old business models are not able to sustain media surgeries as crowds embrace new methods of absorbing news.
Over this, bulk audiences are growing smaller. Newspapers particularly have not managed to adapt to the shifting profile of the old versus the new paper reader.
The result has been that papers are not as appealing to advertisers. Therefore, they must rely far more on state cash and patronage for survival.
To sidestep state management commercial websites in Africa must rethink their business units and enhance their revenue streams.
It will not be an easy road but non-state media should also work hard to interrupt this re-emerging story of “sequence”. Nation states can’t revert to the dark times when government policy was singular and other viewpoints were quieted or delegitimized.