Media of South Sudan
The Media of South Sudan is underdeveloped compared to many other countries, including fellow East African states like Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Poor transportation infrastructure and entrenched poverty in the country inhibit both the circulation of newspapers, particularly in states located far from the capital of Juba, and the ability of media outlets to maintain regular coverage of the entire country.
South Sudan nonetheless has several indigenous media outlets and a host of active journalists.
Following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, the constitution of the newly autonomous South Sudan guarantees press freedom and ensures that all levels of government uphold the principle. Three progressive media bills were introduced in 2007 but were not enacted until the end of 2011, leaving journalists in that period without comprehensive legal protections and the media sector without a regulatory framework.
According to Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the South Sudanese government guarantees freedom of the press, a significant difference from the neighboring Republic of the Sudan from which the South gained independence in July 2011. However, journalists including the editors of both The Citizen and The Juba Post have alleged harassment, abuse, and de facto censorship at the hands of the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement as recently as in the months leading up to independence, and the government has been known to confiscate newspapers and threaten radio stations with closure. The distribution of Arabic-language publications in South Sudan has also allegedly been restricted and outright banned at turns.
Days after South Sudan gained independence, the Sudanese government banned the transportation of newspapers between the two countries and shut down publications and news bureaus owned by South Sudanese in the North, including the Khartoum bureau of The Juba Post.
South Sudan was ranked 124th in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index in 2013, falling by twelve places since 2012. Reporters Without Borders cited the murder of Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol, who was shot dead by an unidentified man on December 12, 2012 as the reason for the country's fall in ranking.
In 2014, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released a joint report about media freedom in South Sudan. The report, titled "The Price of Silence: Freedom of Expression Under Attack in South Sudan," accuses the National Security Service of harassing and detaining journalists.
Radio is the main source of news and information in South Sudan. According to surveys conducted by the Fondation Hirondelle and USAID, radio is the mostly widely used and trusted source of information in the country. Radio listening is considered a social activity. Since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, over 30 FM radio stations have been set up across the country with the encouragement of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) run government. Radio networks and stations are run and funded by Churches, community organizations, international NGOs and private businesses.
The UN radio station Radio Miraya, set up in 2006 by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in partnership with Foundation Hirondelle, has a wider geographic reach than any other FM station in South Sudan. The station is financed by the governments of the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. During the first five years of its activity, Radio Miraya maintained a newsroom in Khartoum, however it ceased all activity in the north following South Sudan’s independence in July 2011 and permanently relocated to Juba. Most of its programming is in English, Arabic and Simple Arabic and it carries regular news bulletins in English and Simple Arabic. Some programs use other African languages such as Dinka, Nuer, Lutuka and Lovo.
There are four main radio networks with broad coverage in South Sudan. The South Sudan Radio Network is controlled by the government of South Sudan and has set up FM stations in nine out of ten of the country’s state capitals. Some of the individual stations are owned by the government of the state where they are situated, however, all are managed underneath the umbrella of the South Sudan Radio Network. The studio facilities of government FM stations are generally primitive and some broadcast for only four to six hours a day. Radio Juba is the flagship station for the network. Other stations include Radio Wau, Radio Malakal and Radio Rumbek. Most programs are in English and Simple Arabic with some use of African languages such as Zande, Madi, Muru, Bari and Kuhu.
The Catholic Radio Network was set up in 2006 by the Comboni Missionary Institutes and Sudan Catholic Bishops conference. This Network consists of nine radio stations linked to the Roman Catholic Church with a common news desk in Juba and a training center in Wau. Eight of the radio stations are in South Sudan and one is in the disputed Nuba Mountains area of South Kordofan State in Sudan. Bakhita FM was the first radio station to go on air under the CRN and other stations include Radio Emmanuel, Saut al Mahabba and Voice of Peace. The Catholic Radio Network's Voice of Love in Malakal went off-air amid violence in Malakal in early 2014. Two radio stations were also destroyed in the Jonglei State capital Bor soon after the outbreak of South Sudan's civil war.
Sudan Radio Service was a shortwave broadcaster that is based in Nairobi, but since it established an FM station in Juba in 2010, most of its program making has been transferred to South Sudan. As well as Nairobi and Juba, the network also had a newsroom in Khartoum and broadcasts to both Sudan and South Sudan. In 2010, SRS entered into a partnership with the University of Khartoum to set up a course on broadcast journalism which will lead to a Certificate in Broadcast Journalism, the first training qualification to exist in South Sudan. Management of the radio station set up in Juba by SRS, Eye Radio, was later taken over by Internews. The US based and USAID financed Internews media development organization also set up six radio stations in conflict sensitive areas, all of which operate under a loose network supported by the organization’s main office in Juba. Four of the stations are located in remote conflict-sensitive areas in South Sudan and the two others are located in the disputed territories of Kauda in the Nuba Mountains and Kurmuk in the Blue Nile State, north of the internationally recognized border of South Sudan. However, the Kurmuk station went off-air in 2011 following outbreak of fighting in Blue Nile State.
BBC World Service operates FM relay transmitters in Juba, Wau and Malakal. BBC Arabic can be heard on 90.0 MHz. Additionally, BBC English is transmitted on 88.2 MHz in Juba.
Government-run and Juba based South Sudan Television Station (SSTV) broadcast six hours a day in English and Arabic and can also be viewed on Satellite. The station runs a few small local TV stations in Aweil, Wau, Malakal and Rumbek. South Africa provides training for SSTV staff. The Citizen Television (CTV) is owned by the owners of The Citizen daily newspaper. Launched in 2013, the station broadcasts from the capital, Juba, for five hours each evening. However, in September 2015 the Editor-in-Chief of The Citizen Nhial Bol announced he was resigning and shutting down the newspaper and TV after receiving death threats and after government security agents shut down his newspaper's premises.
News publications and outlets
Newspapers in South Sudan circulate almost exclusively among the educated elite in urban areas and very few copies reach rural villages. Nearly all newspapers are published in English and as of early 2012, most, such as the Southern Eye, were printed in Kampala or Nairobi and flown into Juba for delivery. South Sudan has two printing presses capable of printing newspapers, one is owned by the government and the other is owned by the daily newspaper The Citizen.
The Citizen and the Juba Monitor, both of which are produced and printed in Juba, are the country’s only daily newspapers. The Citizen was initially founded by a former journalist of the Khartoum Monitor in Sudan and became South Sudan’s first daily newspaper when it transferred all of its operations from Khartoum to Juba. The Juba Monitor was launched in 2011 and is owned by a former BBC correspondent in Khartoum.
The bi-weekly Juba Post is edited by a team of journalists in Juba but is printed in Khartoum. It is the only South Sudan newspaper that is still widely sold in Khartoum. The Sudan Mirror is another bi-weekly newspaper that is produced and printed in Nairobi. Al-Maseer newspaper was the first Arabic language newspaper to be published in South Sudan and was launched in February 2011. This newspaper was aimed at South Sudanese returning from Khartoum and proved to be very popular with the Arabic speaking South Sudanese. Following disagreement over share distribution, this first Arabic language daily ceased publication on Tuesday 10 June 2014. Most of the editorial staff then came together to launch a new Arabic language daily, Al-Maugif, with its first issue hitting the stands on Saturday 14 June 2014.
SHE South Sudan magazine was an independent magazine providing information and entertainment to the women of South Sudan.
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