The media landscape of Ivory Coast is among the most politicised and polarised in West Africa. Some journalists have been subjected to verbal and physical attacks.
With at least 190 authorised stations, radio is the most popular form of media. The country’s approximately 100 newspapers and news sites, for the most part, have a strong political bias, which, at newspaper kiosks, is indicated by the colour coding of the headlines: Green for publications close to the ruling party, and blue for those close to the opposition. The latter have been in decline in recent years, although the Le Temps and La Voie originale newspapers are published somewhat regularly. In a highly polarised media landscape, investigative journalism is a minor presence next to “opinion journalism”. In 2019, the arrival of the first private television networks ended a monopoly of more than 50 years by Radiodiffusion télévision ivoirienne (RTI). The country now has three private television networks, all owned by ruling party supporters.
Press freedom is still closely tied to the political environment. Some political parties and leaders still exert considerable influence on the media. RTI, the state network, continues serving the image of the government and the president.
The legal code does not provide for jail time in press law violation cases. But the crime of offending the president of the Republic remains on the books. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, and the press law of 2017 protects journalists’ sources. The print and online press are regulated by the National Press Authority (ANP), and radio and television by the High Authority of Broadcast Communication (HACA).
Newspaper sales are dropping along with newsroom employment. Some national papers that had printed tens of thousands of copies 20 years ago now rarely sell more than 2,000 a day. In 2021, L’Eléphant dechaîné (The Unchained Elephant), an investigative weekly, announced that it was shutting down its paper edition to become an online magazine. Private TV networks rely on advertising as their source of revenue, which was estimated at 15 to 18 million euros in 2021, an amount deemed inadequate by the main stakeholders.
For cultural reasons, Ivoirian media do not address issues of sexual orientation openly enough.
In 2021, conditions improved for journalists as there were no court convictions. However, they continue to face security problems while they’re on the job: between May and July 2021, at least five journalists suffered physical attacks by unknown assailants, political party activists or law enforcement. Investigative journalists are targets of corruption and intimidation, and their newsrooms are also targeted for attacks.