Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) has published a comprehensive report about flows of aid funds directed at media support world-wide.
According to the estimates in the report “Defending Independent Media: A Comprehensive Analysis of Aid Flows” by Mary Myers and Linet Angaya Juma, about $454 million per year of official development assistance is directed to the media sector, but that number does not tell the whole story. Is financial support to media development increasing, falling, or holding steady? What kinds of approaches and issues are being favored by the governments, multilateral agencies, and private donors that provide assistance to media development? Which countries and regions receive the most support?
To answer these questions, CIMA made an unprecedented effort to sift through a database with thousands of projects to more accurately identify flows going to media development and to provide the most granular analysis yet of how those funds are being spent. Given the new analytical approach of this report, it should not be regarded as simply an update on previous CIMA reports.4 The analysis presented in this report is meant to inform current debates on how international assistance can support an effective response to the new and evolving threats to freedom of the press. That response will be led by journalists, civil society, groups, reform-minded officials and many other actors, but donors can play a crucial role by channeling adequate and timely resources to actors committed to upholding democratic values in global media systems.
When donors provide assistance to the media sector, they frequently back projects that aim to strengthen the media’s contribution to good governance in some way or another. This kind of funding is consistent with recent declarations made by the international community on the importance of protecting independent media for the sake of democracy and development. Yet, in the bigger picture, donors still only commit a tiny fraction to this sector and appear to be responding slowly, if at all, to the unique challenges of press freedom in the digital age.
• Media assistance represented on average just .3 percent of total official development aid (ODA) between 2010 and 2015.
• Donor flows to media are small, but are holding steady.
• China is an increasingly active player in terms of global media aid flows, although its interventions are largely focused on developing infrastructure and take the form of loans rather than development grants.