Introduction


Angola is situated on the West coast of Southern Africa. in 1975, it converted from colonial ruling, into an independent nation. The land mass of Angola is 1, 246, 700 kilometres squared and is separated into 18 provinces. The capital of Angola is Luanda- the principle seaport and administrative centre. The national currency is Kwanza (Kz). The population consists of 18, 498,001-. The official language of Angola is Portugese, with Bantu and indigenous languages such as Umbundu, Kimbundu and Kikongo also being used. The literacy rate for Angolans over 15 is 42%. Angola is also placed 104 on the Press Freedom Index.-


Angolan National Flag
Map of Angola in reference to Africa
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Brief overview of Angolan media



The state controls all media with nationwide reach, especially radio and television, limiting the exposure the audience gets. Angolan media and government are in the midst of reconstruction, hampered by the lack of professionalism, inexperience and lack of resources. Angola's only daily newspaper, Jornal de Angola, and the terrestrial TV service TPA are state-owned and rarely criticise the government. State-run Radio Nacional de Angola (RNA) is the only outlet to offer programmes in indigenous languages such as Bantu. Private stations operate in the main cities, including Catholic station Radio Ecclesia, but RNA is the only available broadcaster across much of the country. The constitution provides for freedom of expression but the government does not always respect this and private media outlets are liable to harassment. Anti-defamation statutes protect officials from reporting deemed "offensive". Nevertheless, several private newspapers and radio stations have carried criticism of the government. (BBC News, 2011, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1063073.stm>)


Print

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In 2006, Angolan parliament enacted legislation that ended government monopolization over news agencies. However, the only national news agencies are currently
the Agência Angola Press (ANGOP), a state-run agency founded in 1975, and Centro de Imprensa Anibal de Melo (CIAM), a government press centre. Jornal de Angola is the
only "national" daily newspaper which is state-controlled, virtually non-existent distribution outside the capital and very little within it. The low rate of literacy skills in Angola remains a great barrier for the distribution of newspapers. Bribes by government members occur often, repressing Angolan civilians of an objective perspective on current affairs, and particularly government affairs.



National Newspapers include:

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Luandan Newspapers include:
  • Jornal dos Desportos
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  • O Apostolado
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  • Semanario Angolense
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Radio


Angola’s most developed media outlet, radio broadcasting, continues to be dominated by the State. This gives power to politicians and the Angolan government. Rádio Nacional de Angola (RNA) has four alternate stations broadcasting from Luanda. Radio Ngola Yetu, which is part of the RNA, is available for citizens on FM in select parts of Angola. 2 RNA services called Rádio Cinco which is a sports station, and Radio FM 96.5, which broadcasts music, are only available in the capital city. There are 18 provincial state-run radio stations which tend to re-broadcast material from the RNA stations. Four stations are privately owned, all four of these stations partially funded by the ruling political party. A non-state radio station called Radio Ecclésia, can be accessed in Luanda 24 hours a day and for one hour a day throughout Angola on short wave. In 2006, Angolan RNA journalist Raul Danda was detained in Cabinda (a province in Angola) as he was in possession of emails containing negative comments about the state, and was charged with provoking violence. It must also be noted that whilst radio stations exist, none aptly exercise the freedom of expression.

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Television

Terrestrial television channels are completely state owned. Television is controlled by the state broadcaster, TelevisãoPopular de Angola. Nationally, there is only one free-to-air channel available for Angolans. Luanda has a free-to-air channel run by the state, and can only be accessed by people who are living in Luanda. Pay-TV is available for civilians with South African services called MultichoiceAfrica and DStv, including channels such as BBC and CNN. However, only a small portion of the Angolian population is subscribed to satellite pay-TV. Satellite channel viewing has increased as it is shown in a multitude of public places such as cafes.



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Angola and the Media :


According to the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2010, Angola is ranked 104th among 178 countries in the world. It roughly sits in the middle of regulation of the medias' watchdog role to inform the public and an extent of manipulation by the government.

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Legislation related to media in Angola

i. Legislation regarding the Rights and Access to Information

The Angolan Constitution 1992 indicates that “The Republic of Angola shall be a democratic State based on the rule of law, national unity, the dignity of the individual, pluralism of expression and political organisation, respecting and guaranteeing the basic rights and freedoms of persons, both as individuals and as members of organised social groups." ( Constitutional Law of the Republic of Angola. 1992. Available:
http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/ao00000_.html)
There is however, an absence of legislation that is associated with rights and access to information. Information is withheld if it is considered to be sensitive or may harm the nation's security and image.

ii. Legislation that has been established to allow media regulatory bodies to function independently


In 1992 the National Media Council was set up with an objective to regulate the media in Angola, staffed by both government officials and civilians. The Council was inactive since its creation and was viewed as a way for the Angolan Government to monitor the media being supplied to the public. On 6 February 2006, the Social Communications Law was enacted by the Angolan Parliament. Its aim, according to the Minister for Social Communication, was to achieve the largest consensus between the Angolan nation and stop the government's monopoly on broadcasting (with a special allowance to short-wave radio).

iii. Current provisions that aim to secure the independence of publicly-owned media

Independence within government-owned media in Angola is not guaranteed. The legislation assures the supremacy of government-owned media over commercial offerings. The media in Angola is seen to be inherently biased towards the government. The majority of media outlets in Angola are state-controlled or controlled by individuals affiliated with the ruling government.


The Media and Politics in Angola


Jose Eduardo dos Santos, head of the MPLA, has led Angola since 1979, when the country's first president, Agostinho Neto, died.
The MPLA won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections held in September 2008, the first polls to be held in the country for 16 years.

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Long-awaited presidential elections were expected to be held in 2009, but were delayed, and in January 2010, parliament approved a new constitution abolishing direct elections for the president. Accordingly, the presidency will be automatically filled by the top-ranking candidate of the winning party of the election.

The change means President Dos Santos will stay in office until 2012, when the current parliament's mandate runs out.

This, along with measures of strengthening the presidency's powers, prompted the main opposition Unita party to accuse the government of "destroying democracy" with the new basic law.

In the 1992 presidential poll, Mr Dos Santos narrowly beat Unita leader Jonas Savimbi, who rejected the result and resumed his guerrilla war. There was no second round of voting in the poll, although Mr Dos Santos is recognised internationally as Angola's president.

In early 2011, there were reports of a social media campaign calling for protests to end Mr Dos Santos' 32-year rule. A report by the campaign group Human Rights Watch alleged a "campaign of intimidation" to prevent demonstrations from happening.

President Dos Santos has sought to justify this concentration of power, which critics have condemned as unconstitutional, in terms of the state of crisis prevailing in the country.

(BBC News, 2011, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1063073.stm>)

1975-1991: controlling the media

After independence, parties within Angola used various media strategies to further their case. The government developed a rationale of 'state journalism' stemming from Marxist-Leninist ideology. Angola seldom employed the archaic 'red pen' method of censorship. Instead, officials interfered with the decisions of news programmes' editors. Those who worked in the media sector, throughout the war, were shown in a 'positive' light. Technical skills and ethics of professional journalism were not required of employees, as long as political directives were adhered to.
The news agency (Angop), the state newspaper (O Jornal de Angola), the national radio (Rádio Nacional de Angola) and the public television station (Televisão Pública de Angola) all became vehicles for political rhetoric and attacks on the enemy.

The media was used as a vehicle for propaganda. Press reports reflected the government's presentation of the war, covered-up military blunders such as military battles or civil unrest attacks, with hospitals full of wounded people. Instead the media would report on trivial events or sporting victories.

1991-2002: liberalization and continuing war

Over this 11 year period, the Angolan government continued to dominate the media. There was a slight modification of the media scope in 1991, when the regime had changed to a multiparty political system. After, there was a birth of private media: first the weekly Correio da Semana, and then the radio station Luanda Antena Comercial (LAC). The resumption of the war after the 1992 election triggered a resurgence of even more aggressive language. Both parties reverted to inflammatory language, editorials, accusatory statements and intolerance. As the war intensified, the press became more aggressive, not only towards the belligerents, but also towards the mediators and the international community. Margaret Anstee, then the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Angola, describes several instances of personal hostility by outlets such as Rádio Vorgan: "Among the carefully selected remarks were accusations that I was corrupt, in the pay of the 'Futungistas' (that is, the presidential entourage) and had betrayed my own country, Angola, and the trust of the United Nations."

By the late 1990's, the myth of "popular unanimity" had been challenged with an emergence of independent press; that reported on warfare and the inhumane treatment of people, topics that were neglected by government media sources. Soon after, other independent media outlets emerged, gradually providing a voice for anti-war members of society, such as clergymen and even politicians.

Churches and the independent press helped create a critical consciousness regarding the war within Angolan society. The re-inauguration of Rádio Ecclésia in 1997 by the Catholic Church encouraged this, by opening its microphones to the public. Society manifested a greater diversity of views in the late 1990s from this. To monitor the Angolan situation in more detail, Voice of America set up a special office in Luanda and created a programme, named Open Line (Linha Aberta), specifically directed at Angolans. Many other foreign news agencies, radio stations and newspapers placed special correspondents in Luanda.



The Angolan media today and the construction of democracy



The Angolan media has typically reflected the corruption within the media. Originally, the media was used to give to rise to patriotic sentiments, rather than for public interest purposes. Like other countries, the Angolan media has been criticised to be manipulated by governmental principles and opinion. The Angolan government's control was extended through social networking sites. Earlier in 2011, a legislation was withdrawn. It allowed the government to sentence people for up to 12 years if they were directly criticising the government.- The government have been known to harass and punish journalists for objective writing. In 1999, Rafael Marques, a noteworthy personality, was illegally detained for several weeks for "defaming" the President, addressing him as a "dictator". Marques was then given a six-month sentence. The publicity enabled him to become the coordinator of the Open Society Institute for Southern Africa office in Luanda.

The war that occurred in Angola underscored the need for critical and communicative journalism. After the war, it was evident that journalism improved, but political bias alongside government manipulation was still evident. Whilst radio has improved; the possibility of independent radio stations looming. Such legislations have been under speculation, but there has been no discussion of the possibility of public broadcasting and community radio stations.

The war demonstrated to the Angolans that there was a need for critical and objective media to be present within the country. Throughout the war, journalists were not trained to the same standard as professional journalism required. The Faculty of Journalism, and a training centre was opened only in 2003, highlighting the poor foundations of journalists within the war period. Previous reputable journalists have neglected the field and have been drawn to political and diplomatic careers. Now, journalists are being directed towards publishing informative and educational content.

Angolan journalists have attempted to publish information on cases of alleged corruption, injustice and abuse of power but such articles lacked detail. As a result, no further investigations have been executed, allowing political powers to avoid such claims.



References

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Barratt E. & Berger G. (2007). 50 Years of Journalism: African Medias Since Ghana's Independence. Johannesburg: The African Editors’ Forum. p.p113-121

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 2011, Angola Country Profile, last accessed 16th August 2011, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1063073.stm>


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People's Assembly. (1992). Constitutional Law of the Republic of Angola .Available:
http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/ao00000_.html Lastaccessed 5th Aug 2011)

Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat 2009, United Nations, accessed 2nd August 2011,
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