Since the introduction of a multi-party democratic system of government in 1992, there has been a definite increase in media outlets and companies. However, the mere quantity of sources does not automatically result in plurality of opinion. Just imagine that, theoretically, out of a hundred available TV channels, the audience would chose to watch only one, leaving its owner with a monopoly to present views – and thus with a major influence on public opinion. This is what's meant by the term 'audience concentration'.
High concentration especially in print
In Tanzania, especially the print market shows a high audience concentration. We looked at the top 4 companies in the news-focused print market: Mwananchi Communication Limited (under the umbrella of Nation Media Group: XX.XXX%), IPP Media Group (XX.XXX%), New Habari (2006) Ltd. (XX.XXX%), and the state-owned Tanzanian Standard Newspaper (TSN, XX.XXX%). With all of their news print outlets combined, these four actors reach XX.XXX% of the readership.
MCL is privately owned and runs under the umbrella of Nation Media Group, which is based in Kenya and financed by the Aga Khan Development Fund. IPP Media Group is a private enterprise, which is owned by a businessman, Dr. Reginald Mengi. New Habari (2006) Ltd. is associated with the politician and businessman Rostam Aziz, while the shareholders are relatively unknown except some leads on their connection to Aziz.
This assessment of concentration relates to the news-focused print market only, excluding special interest titles, such as sports newspapers. However, the picture of these dominant players remains the same even if you include sports papers.
The TV market is also highly concentrated, as the major 4 companies (IPP: XX.XXX%; the state-run Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation (TBC): XX.XXX%; Azam Media Limited: XX.XXX% and Cloud Entertainment Ltd.: XX.XXX% represent an audience share of XX.XXX%. Dr. Reginald A. Mengi’s IPP Group is the one mentioned above for printed press. TBC claims to be a public broadcaster, but it is state-run in practice. The Bakhresa Family owns Azam Media Limited which belongs to their huge Bakhresa Group of companies, invested in numerous industries ranging from food to ferries. Joseph Kusaga, who founded Clouds FM and made it big, also holds the majority shares in the company – while a number of his family members holder the remaining shares.
By comparison, the RADIO market is more diverse and ‘market leaders’ differ from region to region.
Again, Cloud Entertainment Ltd.: XX.XXX%, IPP: XX.XXX%, and the state-run Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation (TBC): XX.XXX% - like in TV - have a considerable standing in this segement of the media market, with each of them operating several stations. Sahara Media Group Ltd. from Mwanza, which operates several radio and TV stations, follows with XX.XXX% audience share. While its official company profile wasn’t available at the Business Registry BRELA, reports identify Dr. Anthony Diallo, a politician and former Member of Parliament, as founder, CEO and owner of the company. He also represents the media group on public events. The radio market still shows a medium to high concentration as the top 4 radio companies reach more than half – exactly XX.XXX% –of the listenership.
For the ONLINE market, MCT commissioned a snapshot study on the most popular websites, which are – excluding the global social networks – independent blogs. Those are not linked to any of the traditional media corporations and thus, create an alternative news supply and sphere for discussion. There seems a low audience concentration as the users mention a variety of online news outlets. The top 4 online news sources were mentioned by ca. XX.XXX% of the surveyed people.
The owners started off as bloggers and digital entrepreneur and do not seem to have other interests in business and politics. Jamii Forum, founded by Maxence Melo, and Mike Mushi, is the most known and used blog (XX.XXX%). Millard Ayo, started a blog named after him (XX.XXX%) as well as Ahmed Issa Michuzi, (XX.XXX%). Muungwana Blog (XX.XXX%), also amongst the most mentioned, was founded and now owned by Muungwana by Rashid Malik Said who keeps a low profile.
Newly introduced regulation sets entrance barriers higher and even pushes out existing suppliers, as they are not able to pay the registration fee.
Lack of financial information – market powers remain secret
While ‘audience concentration’ refers to the potential power over the formation of public opinion, ‘market concentration’ looks at the economic strength of media companies. Accordingly, market concentration means that some media companies manage to attract a disproportionally big share of money that is generated in the overall media sector, which can further distort competition. The respective indicator for the financial strength of a company is its market share by revenue (the company’s percentage of revenue in the total market in a certain year). Again theoretically, if one company earns 99% of money in the sector, it would have the leverage to force competitors out of the market. Those other companies in turn would lack resources for producing competitive, high-quality content and for defending their independence, but become prone to take-overs or influence of potential private investors and their interests.
In Tanzania, the level of market concentration could not be established as financial data, for example on revenues, is not available. The low salaries for journalists, the lopsided state funding that subsidizes mostly state-owned media, as well as the constant rise and fall of ever new media outlets – especially in print – indicate an economically imbalanced, to an extent malfunctioning, even precarious state of the media sector.
Unregulated cross-media ownership – concentration is on the rise
Cross-media concentration is usually measured based on the market power – which could not be established due to lacking financial data. Attempts to introduce cross-media regulation came late – too late. While media stakeholders had put the topic on the agenda early at the beginning of the millennium, the Government hesitated. This allowed cross-media empires to expand – such as IPP Media Ltd., which is today one of the biggest media groups in Eastern Africa, and which operates in print and broadcast, and recently registered as online content provider.
Those companies have the power to push out competitors and dominate the whole marekt, which than possibly puts media pluralism in the country at risk.
Audience shares for TV and Radio are based on the GeoPoll surveys for Q2, 2018. Consumption of print and online is based on a GeoPoll snapshot survey via text messages, carried out for two days in Aug/Sep. GeoPoll is perceived as credible organization, however, the studies have their methodological limits. For example, the sample is limited to Tanzanians that own a mobile phone - who tend to be younger, male, and more urban than the average Tanzanian.