Tanzania | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The government's efforts to combat terrorism and corruption have put additional strains on the right of Tanzanian journalists to impart information, a right enshrined in the constitution but routinely restricted in practice. Although the authorities do not officially censor the content of news products, the National Security Act, the Broadcasting Services Act, the Newspaper Registration Act, decency and criminal libel laws, and a "voluntary" code of ethics severely limit the media's ability to function effectively. The print media remain subject to strict gag orders, and journalists admit to self-censorship. As their numbers continue to grow, print and electronic media outlets have become more active, but their reach does not extend beyond the capital, Dar es Salam, and other urban centers. In this federal republic with large Muslim populations, the authorities on the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar maintain a separate set of media laws, which are generally harsher than national press-related legislation and are sometimes interpreted within the context of Islamic jurisprudence. In December, Zanzibar's leaders banned the islands' only private publication, Dira, revoked its editor's citizenship, and later banned a journalist from reporting for a 12-month period under the Zanzibar News Act. While there are no private broadcast operations on Zanzibar, privately owned radio stations on the mainland are not free to broadcast in tribal languages. They also remain under legal obligation to broadcast government-produced news programming every evening. Since 2001, when the government started a crackdown on the gossipy content of the tabloid press, journalists have been cutting down on their pursuit of scandals among the ruling elite, even though they are not convinced of the authorities' stated concern for the quality of local journalism.