Tanzania | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, several other laws limit the ability of media to function effectively. Authorities are empowered to register and ban newspapers under the Newspaper Registration Act, while the Broadcasting Services Act provides for state regulation of the electronic media and the National Security Act allows the government to control the dissemination of information to the public. Libel is a criminal offense, and the threat of exorbitant, politically motivated fines is used to intimidate the media. In late 2003, the government adopted a new information and broadcasting policy that has yet to be fully implemented. Even though it includes provisions protecting press freedom, it fails to put an end to the registration requirement for newspapers and contains broad content restrictions. Lack of access to government and public information is a major problem for the media. Government workers are prohibited from disclosing official information to the media; therefore, the media receive information informally from only a select group of government officials.

Under the island of Zanzibar's separate and more restrictive media policies, journalists must be licensed and the state tightly controls the broadcast media. In November 2003, Zanzibar's first and only independent private newspaper, Dira, was subjected to an indefinite ban by the government under the repressive 1988 national security law. The newspaper had run articles accusing the ruling party of planning to rig elections in 2005 and published features on the sensitive subject of Zanzibar's union with Tanganyika. The country's high court refused the paper's petition to reopen in November 2004, saying it had violated registration procedures, and the ban remains in effect.

Reporters continue to face some harassment at the hands of authorities, particularly in Zanzibar, and a number practice self-censorship. Nevertheless, independent media outlets as well as the state-owned newspaper criticize official policies, although the government occasionally pressures outlets to suppress unfavorable stories. In April, the Ministry of Information repealed a decree that required all radio stations to broadcast government-produced news programs. Economic liberalization has brought a wide variety of media outlets, including dozens of FM radio stations, 350 registered newspapers, and a dozen television stations. Only 4 radio stations have a national reach-Radio Tanzania, privately owned Radio One and Radio Free Africa, and Radio Uhuru-and all are viewed as sympathetic to the ruling party. With most of the population unable to afford the 25 cents to buy a newspaper, radio remains the most popular means of mass communication. According to the U.S. State Department, there were reports that the government at times withholds advertising from critical newspapers and maintains prohibitively high taxes on newsprint and advertising