Chad’s media landscape is very diverse with a range of well-established players. There are six private television channels in Chad, more than 60 private radio stations, of which about 20 broadcast from N’Djamena and more than 40 from the provinces. Additionally, there are 38 French-language newspapers, 13 Arabic-language newspapers and about 20 online press sites. The Haute Autorité des Medias Audiovisuels (HAMA) regulates all media in the country, both public and private. There are also a number of press umbrella organisations that work towards defending freedom of the press and professionals working in this space.
The public service media, Agence Tchadienne de Presse et d’Édition (ATPE), has been publishing the national newspaper L’Info since 2011 (this was preceded by the Agence Tchadienne de Presse (ATP), founded in 1966). The Office National des Médias Audiovisuels (ONAMA) includes both the Radiodiffusion Nationale Tchadienne (RNT), created in 1957, and the Télévision Nationale (TNT), created in 1987. ONAMA also has 25 provincial relay stations that broadcast throughout the country.
The emergence of private media has ended the state media monopoly in the country and has contributed significantly to the development of a more robust media landscape. The political and security situation, however, remains highly unstable and poses serious risks to journalists, especially during periods of heightened tensions such as elections. In August 2023, the online newspaper, Alwihda Info, was suspended for publishing insulting remarks about the President of the Republic.
Professional journalism plays a crucial role in upholding democracy. The media serves as a vital source of information for the public regarding the actions and decisions of those in power.
Professional journalism plays a crucial role in upholding democracy. The media serves as a vital source of information for the public regarding the actions and decisions of those in power. It is therefore crucial that media professionals feel free to maintain their ethical responsibility to provide accurate, truthful, and impartial information to the public, especially during election periods. Responsible journalism ensures that the public is equipped with the information necessary to make informed decisions when casting their ballots.
Recognizing the essential role of media professionals in ensuring fair and ethical elections coverage, EISA, as part of the activities under the EU-funded Appui aux Acteurs Citoyens Tchadiens et aux Élections (ACTE) project, has partnered with HAMA to enhance the capacity of the 56 top-ranked media professionals in the country. These include directors, deputy-directors, chief editors, and station managers, which are charged with ensuring that the coverage of elections contributes to transparent, fair, and peaceful elections.
An improved media space can increase citizen participation, help voters make informed decisions and hold their leaders accountable.
Through this exercise, EISA aims to facilitate citizen participation, enable informed decision-making, and promote accountability among the country’s leaders. Participants were reminded of the crucial role they play throughout the electoral cycle. Furthermore, they were introduced to techniques and approaches for ethical election coverage during periods of political transition, as well as the legal and regulatory requirements of their profession
One of the key themes of this series of workshops was the impact of hate speech during elections. This theme urged participants to engage in “peace journalism” before, during and after elections in order to reduce incidents of hate speech and other speech that could be considered divisive. The workshops highlighted the benefits of using social networks for election coverage, but also equipped participants with the tools they need to tackle the issue of hate or divisive language on social media and networks where messages spread quickly.
At the end of the workshops, participants expressed their gratitude for the skills that they had acquired and were optimistic that they would enable them to provide more impartial and responsible media coverage of the electoral processes in Chad. They reaffirmed the importance of fact-checking to ensure the accuracy of content and the need to use decoders and other means to separate the news from unsubstantiated hype. Their commitment not to share hate content and other messages that could incite conflict was evident.
The expansion of the media landscape in Chad is exciting and offers a lot of possibilities for increasing the sharing of credible information, but this space still faces significant challenges. EISA has found it essential to strengthen the capacity of media professionals to cover elections ethically – convinced that contributing to a more robust media can make a meaningful difference to Chad’s democracy. An improved media space can increase citizen participation, help voters make informed decisions and hold their leaders accountable. A robust media space will enable media professionals to work without fear of reprisals and contribute to upholding democratic principles in Chad.