The country stands out in the region for its legal framework for journalists. Press freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, the government directly appoints directors of state-owned media outlets, which dominate the media landscape.
Cape Verde, considering its size, enjoys a diverse media environment. There are five television networks, including the state-owned Televisão de Cabo Verde (TCV), the most popular, and three private networks, in addition to a Portuguese network aimed at Lusophone Africa. Approximately 10 radio stations are in operation, including the state-owned Radio de Cabo Verde RCV. Print and online media include a news agency, two newspapers and about five news sites. The archipelago’s geography, however, makes dissemination difficult throughout the 10-island chain.
Although the law that guarantees pluralism allows all political parties to have a voice in the media, the reality is somewhat less clear-cut. Directors of state broadcast entities are directly appointed by the government and their programmes prioritise government policy. Pressure from the state has increased self-censorship. Cape Verde maintains a culture of secrecy, with the government not hesitating to restrict access to information of public interest.
The Constitution and laws are very favourable to the practice of journalism, thus allowing journalists to report freely. However, an article in the code of criminal procedure adopted in 2005 allows anyone, including journalists, to be charged with violating the secrecy of judicial investigations. This law caused no issues until January 2022, when three journalists from privately owned media outlets were interrogated for that reason.
The economic environment is more favourable for journalists in the state-owned sector, which offers better salaries and more job stability. However, state media face financial problems and depend on state subsidies. As for privately owned media, their growth is curbed by a limited advertising market and the absence of state subsidies for broadcast companies.
Unlike in most other African countries, women account for about 70% of newsroom employees in Cape Verde. However, the islands’ small sizes tend to limit the development of investigative journalism. Many people know each other, and journalists often avoid taking on topics that involve one of their acquaintances.
Since the emergence of democracy in 1991, no journalist has been detained, put under surveillance or followed while practising their profession. Some journalists from privately owned media have, however, reported being threatened after the publication or airing of their stories. Likewise, journalists reporting on the ruling party may be harassed on social media by party activists.