Strategic Communication for Security & National Defense: Proposal for an Interdisciplinary Approach

Cristian E. Guerrero-Castro


Most recent military actions have provided stark examples of the increasing power of communications in the public and governmental arena regarding the role that direct actors play in disputes characterized as “conflicts of interests.” These examples have also shown how communications can directly influence perceptions within the international system and among those who enjoy “freedom of action,” who are always pursued by an arsenal of immediate media technology. However, in a conflict of interests, nation-states act along political lines and use the tools of the “fields of action” (internal, external, economic, and defense) to execute their national strategies, with the objective of maintaining or pursuing political and strategic objectives. But how can we defend ourselves against communications, or use them to benefit our political-strategic interests?

After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, three capabilities concerning communication began to develop within the George W. Bush Administration in the U.S.: “Information Operations and Psychological Operations” (IO and PSYOPS); “Public Affairs” (PA); and “Defense Support to Public Diplomacy” (DSPD). This was done by dedicating integrated communications technologies for use in pursuing specific tactics, operations, and other elements of the national strategy in this so-called “war of perceptions,” with the objective of achieving credibility and thus freedom of action. In that moment the concept of “strategic communication” started to appear in the vocabulary of many people linked to security and national defense issues.

Between 2002 and 2004, after many reports, studies, and drafts of the definition of strategic communication in the area of defense, the concept migrated to other areas such as business, public relations, and social communication, generating dissonance within the concept. Meanwhile, another concept, called “strategic communications” (the only difference being the “s”) was born, causing even more confusion.

This article intends to offer an interdisciplinary approach to strategy and mass communication in the field of security and national defense and to define, by means of hermeneutical, qualitative, and quantitative research techniques, the definitions, missions and lineaments of strategic communication. It will create a model proposal for “Strategic Communication for Security and National Defense,” with the objective of tracing the guidelines of this vital tool for pursuing and maintaining permanent national objectives, including peacekeeping. We will begin with a look at this concept, its evolution and attempts of definitions in recent years.

The Evolution of the Definition of Strategic Communication

The Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication in the year 2004 defined strategic communication as follows:

Strategic communication is a vital component of U.S. national security. It is in crisis, and it must be transformed with a strength of purpose that matches our commitment to diplomacy, defense, intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security. Presidential leadership and the bipartisan political will of Congress are essential. Collaboration between government and the private sector on an unprecedented scale is imperative. … Moreover, strategic communication efforts must reinforce key themes and messages and constantly be measured against defined objectives. As a result, adjustments must be made and those responsible for implementation held accountable.[1]

This shows that strategic communication “efforts” are a vital component of U.S. national security.

Moreover, in 2005 the Director of Strategic Communications and Information at the National Security Council (NSC), Jeff Jones, pointed out the importance of strategic communication by saying: “There is little evidence of cooperation, coordination, or even more, the appreciation of the impact of strategic communication.” [2]

Then, at the end of 2006, after a visit to the Pentagon with a delegation of the ANEPE, I read another definition of strategic communication in the “QDR Execution Roadmap for Strategic Communication 2006” that defines strategic communication as communication that “focuses United States Government process and efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable to advance national interests and objectives through the use of coordinated information, themes, plans, programs, and actions synchronized with other elements of national power.” [3] This provides additional evidence for the fact that strategic communication can be used in pursuit of national interests using the coordination of information, which I refer to as “logic of action.” It also clarifies that this coordinated information must be synchronized with other elements of national power.

Subsequently, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 called for the creation of a new area for strategic communication. The House Armed Services Committee pointed out its critical importance by saying: “The committee believes the Department should leverage these efforts to designate a science and technology thrust area for strategic communication and focus on critical science and technology opportunities….” [4]

Considering the impact of strategic communication, many professionals borrow this concept irresponsibly and create differing definitions and roles for it, attempting to integrate it into many different areas, causing confusion with the result that each public or government entity develops a “strategic communication” plan according to the interpretation of whoever is in charge. Often these efforts are simply carrying out social communication, or even marketing, which is often confusing, or wrong. So, the following questions have emerged:

•       What is strategic communication?

•       What is strategic communication for security and national defense?

•        When is communication strategic?·   

Later, in 2010, the White House Strategic Communications Report to Congress declared:

Over the last few years, the term “strategic communication” has become increasingly popular. However, different uses of the term “strategic communication” have led to significant confusion. As a result, we believe it is necessary to begin this report by clarifying what we mean by strategic communication. By “strategic communication(s)” we refer to: (a) the synchronization of words and deeds and how they will be perceived by selected audiences, as well as (b) programs and activities deliberately aimed at communicating and engaging with intended audiences, including those implemented by public affairs, public diplomacy, and information operations professionals.[5]

After many years of confusion, last year, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 changed the concept of strategic communication that they mentioned before to strategic communications by declaring:“The committee continues to support information operations (IO) and strategic communications (SC) as important tools for countering enemy narratives, as well as engaging with the global community.” [6] Therefore, strategic communication is seen as something that should be used in support of national interests and synchronized with national power.

The Problems

At this point, we have a general idea about the subject and goals of this article, but to understand the phenomenon of study we must first delve into the current qualitative problems concerning the confusion that exists about the definition of strategic communication.

Strategic Communication?

In the post-9/11 era, strategic communication has become a term used for more than a hundred disciplines, pseudo-disciplines, and professions. It is deployed as a recurrent and helpful concept to indicate that a project involves smart thinking, planning, and coordination, and is ruthlessly used for marketing, business, public relations, and many other areas. But does strategic communication mean the same thing in these various fields? How can those areas develop strategic communication? Does the concept even make sense in all these areas?

So what happens when we try to speak of strategic communication in the area of security and national defense? Are we referring to public relations, journalism, diplomacy, military diplomacy, telecommunications, propaganda, or efforts to shape a country’s image? Perhaps it relates to the coordination of internal and external communications of public, state, and government institutions? Or it is simply government marketing? What happens when the nation must act or react to a scenario where communications are vital to support permanent national objectives? What kind of strategic communication should be used, and according to the definition of which profession should it be executed? As was noted above, each government, ministry, department, institution, or entity develops its own approach to strategic communication, defined by the professional who is in charge, which results in the confusing proliferation of the application of the term to situations where it is not appropriate. As Professor Rosa Brooks correctly notes, “[There is] no question in my mind there are people in the name of U.S. government strategic communications doing stupid things right this minute.” [7]

Strategic Communication or Social Communication?

Let me include a personal experience in relation to the previous question. In 2006 during a visit to Washington D.C., I had the opportunity to meet with two professionals involved in the use of communications in the area of security and national defense. They were a journalist in charge of the internal and external communications of a government agency, and an official of the General Staff in charge of command communications. When I asked them what was the mission of communications in the area of security and national defense, the journalist immediately said that it was not just communication, but it was “strategic communication,” and that the mission was to integrate the broader society with the armed forces. Then the official of the General Staff told me that the missions of communication for security and defense were to coordinate the forces, gather information, and create intelligence. It was also involved with social communication, or public relations, with the primary objective of informing the civilians about the role of the armed forces in peacetime, with the appropriate compartmentalization of information under high command supervision.

The official clearly (and correctly) referred to some of the missions of the strategic dimension of communication and the intelligence process, and then to the activities of social communication and public relations. But where is the strategy that the journalist told me about? Nowhere, of course. What she called “strategic communication” is nothing more than public relations based on social communication. Why is this not strategic? Because this type of communication neither works in the strategic dimension nor pursues any vital objective of the nation-state. Strategy focuses attention on how to articulate the tools for achieving goals related to dealing with threats that lead to conflicts, and furthermore, it recognizes that the means employed must be coordinated at the highest level of the nation-state and must also understand the broad spectrum of all the resources that constitute national power. Or, as Professor Harry Yarger said in his definition of strategy and its objectives (state interests): “Strategy is all about how (way or concept) leadership will use the power (means or resources) available to the state to exercise control over sets of circumstances and geographic locations to achieve objectives (ends) that support state interests. Strategy provides direction for the coercive or persuasive use of this power to achieve specified objectives” [8]

The discussion that I related above ended when the journalist began to refer to “the operative strategy” and “the tactical strategy.” In that moment, the official of the General Staff and I looked at each other and decided to gently end the discussion and to assent to what the journalist said. But it caught my attention that a journalist in charge of the area of social communication of a defense agency so flagrantly confused the strategic, operative, and tactical dimensions, mixing them without any shame. Two years after that, when I was again in the United States, I had a conversation with an accomplished professional in the national defense sector who said that, while it could not be referred to as “strategic communication,” since it was a process that was still a subject of study that was only being discussed, the mission of social communication in the area of defense was to facilitate communication with the media; this person also spoke of public relations, which had the mission to gain trust, understanding, and support from the public. Therefore, social communication is confused with strategic communication merely due to the fact that the concept or word “strategy” reflects the importance of the role that civilians play in security and national defense.

Later that same year, in a class of “Communication and Strategy for Crisis Simulation Games” for the high command course in Political and Strategic Studies at an academic institution in America, where I was guest lecturer in June 2008, the state officials who were the students in this course asked the following questions: What is strategic about strategic communication? What is the real field of action of strategic communication? Does it belong to business, marketing, advertising, journalism, defense, the state, or is it integrated into all of them? Is there an official, aligned and structured definition of strategic communication for security and national defense? What are the tools that strategic communication uses? What is the mission of strategic communication? Does it have to do with the press releases of the armed forces or the agencies and ministries of defense? Does it have to do with the internal communication of the institutions linked to the area of defense? Is it military diplomacy? Or it is coercive diplomacy? Or perhaps it has to do with telecommunications and communicational coordination of the forces? Without doubt, there are many questions about strategic communication, but so far there seems to be only one answer: The definition of strategic communication is lost in a universe full of ambiguities, confusions, and conceptual gaps.

However, does this mean that it is impossible to know what strategic communication is, what its qualities and missions are? These statements make the use of communications as a vital tool evident, but when we are talking about strategic communication we attribute it to many disciplines and pseudo-disciplines, thus creating confusion that prevents us from understanding and working with this instrument. Hence, this article is based on the results of an interdisciplinary approach between Strategic Studies and Mass Communication in the field of security and national defense. As was stated above, it attempts to provide a definition, missions, and lineaments for strategic communications, and creates a model proposal for “Strategic Communication for Security and National Defense,” with the objective of tracing the guidelines of this vital tool for pursuing and maintaining permanent national objectives, including peacekeeping.


It needs to be mentioned that this article aims to deliver to professionals in the academic and political-military area, simply and clearly, the results of a hermeneutic qualitative-quantitative research study through an interdisciplinary approach between the “models of strategy” of Beaufre (1965) [9] and the “models of communication” of Laswell (1948) [10], Berlo (1960)  [11], Schramm (1954)  [12], Shannon (1948)  [13] and Maletzke (1963)  [14] models selected by results of a selection criteria matrix. These have been integrated into the definitions of “National Security Strategy” and “National Defense Strategy” by analytical instruments designed for this research in order to identify and justify pertinent concepts and develop proposals for the definition, lineaments, missions and model of strategic communication for security and national defense.


This research created five instruments using hermeneutic, qualitative, and quantitative methods for the interdisciplinary approach by analyzing the objects of study and the inductive codes (see Table 1).

Sustainability and Roles of the Ethiopian Media Council

Master’s Thesis, 2017



1.1 Background of the Study
1.1.1 Why Study Media Council?
1.2. Statement of the Study
1.3. General Objective of the Study
1.3.1. Specific Objectives
1.4. Research Questions
1.5. Significance of the Study
1.6. Scope of the Study
1.7. Limitations of the Study
1.8. Organization of the Study

2.1 Media Regulation: Overview
2.1.1 Why Media Regulated?
2.1.2 Basic Models of Media Regulation
2.2 Media Freedom
2.3 The Concept of Media Self-Regulation
2.3.1 Advantages of Self-Regulation
2.4 Media Self-Regulation in Africa
2.5 Legal Framework in Ethiopia
2.5.1 The Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation 590/2008
2.5.2 Broadcasting Service Proclamation 533/2007
2.5.3 The anti-terrorism proclamation 652/2009
2.6 Media Self-Regulation in Ethiopia
2.7 Media Council
2.7.1 Functions of Media Council
2.9 Theoretical Framework
2.9.1 Social Responsibility Theory

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Design
3.3 Data Sources
3.4 Data Collection Techniques
3.4.1 In-depth Interview
3.5 Sampling Techniques
3.5.1 Key Informants
3.6 Issues of Reliability and Validity
3.6.1 Validity
3.7 Ethical Considerations
3.8 Pilot Study
3.9 Data Analysis and Presentation

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Media Regulation and Freedom of Expression in Ethiopia
4.3 The Significance of Media Self-Regulation in Ethiopia
4.4 The Ethiopian Media Council
4.4.1 Perception of Roles of the Ethiopian Media Council
4.5 Determinants of the EMC Sustainability and Success
4.5.1 Members of EMC
4.5.2 The EMC Code of Ethics
4.5.3 Awareness about the EMC
4.5.4 Source of Income
4.5.5. The Mandate and Sanctions of the EMC
4.5.6 The Structure and composition of the EMC
4.6 Current Effort to Register and Functionalize the EMC
4.7 Challenges the EMC faces

5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Recommendations


Appendix 1: List of Interviewees
Appendix 2: In-depth interview for Journalists& Editors
Appendix 3: Interview questions for media managers and /or owners, EMC leaders & Journalists Association leaders
Appendix 4: Questionnaire


First and above all, I would like to thank the Almighty GOD for his support in all my life and for the successful completion of this thesis.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my advisor Dr. Zenebe Beyene for the continuous support of my MA research, for his patience, motivation, and immense knowledge. His guidance helped me in all the time of research and writing of this thesis.

I wish also to thank the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) for granting me this opportunity to join the MA program.

To my family, especially my wife Zeritu Brihanu and my son Jedidiah Bereket, I am very grateful for your unconditional support, encouragement, and love.

In addition, to all my EBC/ FM 97.1 friends& staffs I wish to extend my appreciation to you all. I especially thank Meseret Atalay and Silashi Damesew for their support in direct relation to this work.

Thanks are due to my classmate, Abayeneh Tilahun, Bilal Worku, Alula T/ Mariam and others for their support and encouragement.

Finally, yet importantly, I thank all my respondents very much for their cooperation without which this work would not have been possible.

God Bless you all.

Lists of Table, Graphs, Chart& Diagram

Table 1: Understanding roles of EMC

Graph 1: Regulation model

Graph 2: Responses to major problems facing EMC

Chart 1: Responses gave whether EMC seriously took& supported

Diagram 1: Institutional Structure of EMC

List of appendices

Appendix 1: List of Interviewees

Appendix 2: Interview questions to journalists & Editors

Appendix 3: Interview questions for media managers and/or owners, EMC leaders & association leaders.

Appendix 4: Questionnaire


Abbildung in dieser eseprobe nicht enthalten


The purpose of this study was to examine sustainability and the roles Ethiopian media council plays in addressing the issues the media faces in Ethiopia. In order to assess the sustainability and roles of EMC, the study examined determinant factors of sustainability and success of the council. The study employed mainly qualitative, in-depth interview and complemented by quantitative, structured questionnaires, research methods. Data were thematically analyzed based on related literature reviews, in-depth interviews, and findings from questionnaires. The social responsibility theory remains central in guiding this study. The study revealed media community do not reach consensus on the roles of EMC plays in the industry because a clear understanding and explanation of the council role was not given. The result showed EMC is not independent (from government and media proprietors) to deal fairly with complaints and to secure public trust and confidence. The findings also indicated that the council does not bring the entire media platform (online & offline) because of this it will be difficult for the EMC to enforce a code of conduct. In addition, government interference, lack of finance, lack of commitment and cooperation, media polarization, conflict of interests and distrust among media society are major challenges for the EMC in promoting and sustaining freedom of expression and media freedom. Based on the findings of the study, recommendations have been forwarded.


The media are social institutions play their roles in the information communication area. They are there, to get the public fully informed, educated and entertained. These are recognized depending on the guidelines delineated in the respective law. If media freedoms are protected, they can fully use their potential to contribute to the well-being of the societies. However, because the media are powerful, there should be mechanisms to ensure they are held accountable to the public and that ethical and professional standards are sustained. And media independence is guaranteed if media organizations are free from the interference of government and power groups. Along with various schemes, media self-regulatory body, such as media council has contributed to creating independence that allows the media to be an effective instrument for extending freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

Consequently, media Councils exist to show the public that the media industry is willing to self-regulate and that there is no need for external regulation. By considering this, the Ethiopian Media Council, hereinafter referred as EMC was established on January 2016. The realization of the Council is one-step forward to ensure freedom of expression and guarantee the rights of the media stipulated in the Ethiopian constitution. In addition, it should still need to do the best to further make the Council a stronger institution. A point to be noted is that this media council was born of many discussions and debates about regulating the media.

Nevertheless, upon the establishment of the council diverse controversy arose from a different corner. According to Association articles, traditional media (print and broadcast media houses) are entitled to be made part of the Ethiopian Media Council, whereas online media are left out. In addition, the source of income for the council was the major questionable issue that blurred the fate of the council.


The concerns have been raised regarding the council appreciated and that is why the researcher motivated to conduct the sustainability and roles of the newly established Ethiopian media council.

1.1 Background of the Study

Independence of media regulatory bodies is a vital condition for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression. According to Bussiek (2008), the emergence of media councils has been linked to the media’s desire to avert statutory regulations that are often seen as deliberate attempts to quiet freedom of the media. And the concept of a media council to self-regulate is based upon the fact that disputes over media content and behaviors of practitioners should be resolved by some independent but non-legal body. Andrew Puddephatt (2011) argued self-regulation preserves the independence of the media and protects it from partisan government interference.

Accordingly, media councils are the forum where people can send the complaints against the irresponsible functioning of the media. And its main task is to deal with complaints about the work of the media, through collective decision making. By doing this, media council offer guarantees to the public about the quality of information the public receives, demonstrate that media professionals are responsible.

So, the prime functions of media councils are to increase the accountability of the media to the public. According to Day (2003) media, councils are composed of the cross section of the community and the media that are designed to investigate complaints against the media, investigate the charges, and then publish their findings. And to sustain their freedom and avoid the involvement of the coercive power of government, the media voluntarily set up media council to scrutinize failings of social responsibility that might spoil their image of disinterested public service.

Gordon and Kittos (1999) states that any limitation of the freedom of expression by outside forces is dangerous for several reasons: It opens the door to any would be the determiner of “right” or “correct” expression; it assumes that media people cannot make their own decisions (1999:38). Each established media council is unique, the result of its country’s particular history and media environment. Based on this, the Ethiopia Media Council was established, to promote self-regulation among its members and to consider complaints against the media from the public, from the government and from the media itself.


For the media to play important roles in the democratic process of a given country, they have to be free and independent first. To be able to entertain the different views and opinions, which are key aspects in a democracy, the media need to be free from any interference. Assigning press ombudsman, establishing media councils and press complaint commissions are ways of intermedia regulatory frameworks. As one of the self-regulatory mechanism, media council is responsible for adjudicating complaints and for upholding freedom of expression through ensuring compliance with ethics and reviewing freedom of the media in general.

Hence, the media council’s purpose is to protect the freedom of the media by ensuring that it keeps or recovers the trust of the public, by improving its informative and ethical quality, and by making it more socially responsible.

Since other media self-regulation mechanisms such as media ombudsmen, and press complaint commission are yet not introduced in Ethiopia, the researcher assumes that the newly established media council of Ethiopia has a significant contribution in media self-regulation. As a result, the research focuses on the media council of Ethiopia.

1.2. Statement of the Study

Media can function effectively with a regulatory body, which controls their activities and affairs as it relays to journalistic practices. And the media are considered to be a watchdog of the society and the media council in principle, is expected to be the watchdog of the media. Consequently, given the public function of the media as a watchdog of public authority, the regulation of media activities by the state, as the one to be watched, can be problematic. That is why, many countries have developed a self-regulatory framework, with independent media councils. The media has acknowledged that some self-regulation is essential because failure to regulate will result in further erosion of confidence and perhaps even public demands for government intervention (Day 2003:45).

Even though the role of self-regulation in the media is vital to promote a high standard of professionalism and growth and advancement of the media industry, in the long history of Ethiopian media since the January 2016 no media council was realized. Research conducted on the institutionalizing a media Self -regulatory body in Ethiopia (Solomon, 2011) found out that the media industry to survive and follow the right path of the profession, an independent media self-regulatory body has an irreplaceable role.

Inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and a responsible and yet fiercely independent engagement with all the concerned bodies that are within the efforts of forming the media council should be given high priority (Solomon, 2011:p.64).

No one refutes that an indisputable media council would have helped journalists to be monitored and regulated by their own partners rather than by compulsive law enforcement officials, as is the case in the country. For media council to maintain its independence, it needs to be all inclusive, efficient and financially self-sustaining.

The Ethiopian Media Council announcement was aimed at a self-regulatory body at promoting a high professional standard for country media and to deal with complaints emanating from the public about the conduct of the media and journalists in their professional capacity, or complaints from the media about the conduct of persons or organization towards the media. But, even if no research conducted on the similar topic, based on the researcher’s observation, working journalists and stakeholders are criticizing that the newly established Ethiopian media council is not functioning properly and uncertainty concerning the fate of the council, whether it’s continuing or not.

As evidence, they mentioned the problems in fundraising system, membership eligibility, and interference from the government. And since January 2016 thin-skinned arguments have been heard from many corners, both in favor of and against the council. Also, as everyone is talking about media self-regulation, there is a gap of understanding of the concept and roles of Media Council.

Therefore, this research will assess the sustainability and the roles of the Ethiopian media council. In addition, the purpose of this research is to examine factors determining council’s sustainability and effective.

1.3. General Objective of the Study

The general objective of this research is to examine the sustainability and the roles of the newly established Ethiopian media council play to realize self-regulation of the media industry in the country.


The specific objectives of this research are:

– To assess the roles of the Ethiopian media council plays as self-regulatory body
– To examine the awareness of journalists towards the EMC
– To identify the major problems that face the EMC to achieve the self-regulation role and.
– To review the criteria for accepting members and the fundraising system of the EMC.

1.4. Research Questions

The following research questions have been developed to achieve and answer the objectives of the research:

RQ: What roles the Ethiopian media council plays in the country’s media industry?

RQ: How journalists understand the Ethiopian Media Council?

RQ: What are the major problems that affect the council in playing the self-regulatory role?

RQ: To what extent the fundraising system and membership eligibility to make sustainable and successful the Ethiopian Media Council?

1.5. Significance of the Study

This study will assist to determine the sustainability of the Ethiopia Media Council and extent of assistance it can give to the country’s Journalism in serving as self- regulatory body of the media. As a result, it may lay the foundation for other research attempts in the area of media council and some other related initiative in the future. In addition, it helps all significant bodies need to work together to outshine the media sector that is free from any influence.

1.6. Scope of the Study

The study defines mostly the Ethiopian media council as a self-regulatory body. Hence, it mainly focuses on only on selected media organizations, professional associations and individuals that have been playing an active role in the effort towards strengthening and successful a media council of Ethiopia.

As a result, not all of the executive committee members of the council and media organizations are included in the study, since the time and finance of the research are limited.

1.7. Limitations of the Study

Since the Ethiopia media council established in January 2016, mainly the media council members that the researcher has visited may not keenness to provide information, though they advocate the right to access information. Shortage of sufficient materials and relevant literature in the area was also a limiting factor.

In addition, this study is limited by the logistics and financial problems. As a result of this, the researcher narrow the research work at some media houses and stakeholders found in Addis Ababa because of the inadequate resources available.

1.8. Organization of the Study

This thesis contains five chapters. Chapter one presents the introduction, background of the study, a statement of the problem, research objectives, significance of the study, research questions, scope, limitations, and organization of the study.

In addition, the second chapter discusses the review of literature related to the study and the theoretical framework. Then the third chapter talks the design of the study, i.e. the methodology such as the data gathering techniques and other related things. Chapter four deals with data presentation, discussion, and analysis. Finally, the last chapter, chapter five, comprises the conclusion of the study. The major findings are presented in this particular chapter. Suggested recommendations relying on the findings of the study are forwarded.


2.1 Media Regulation: Overview

Regulation refers to subjective the process under the rule of the state, usually centered in an independent regulatory body. This body makes decisions in situations where there are conflicting interests. Also regulation consists of the use of formal statutory rules laid down by public authorities.

Regulation has three components: legislation, that is, defining appropriate rules; enforcement, such as initiating actions against violators; and adjudication, that is, deciding whether a violation has taken place and imposing an appropriate sanction. And one field that is regulated by the state is the media. So, media regulation refers to all means by which media organizations are formally controlled or directed in their activities.

According to Francois (1975), the history of media regulation begins with the claim of the printing press to book invention from the mid-15th century onwards in Western Europe. As the printing industry expanded, especially after 1500, both church and state took an increasing interest in the content of what was being printed and published, especially with a view to combating dissent. This led very widely to the licensing of all printers by the state and the requirement for advance consent by church authorities for texts to be published.

Thus, media regulation is the use of legal means to control media ownership and the content of media communications. More specifically, the state issues licenses and supervises the media industry.

Selznick, cited in Varney (2006) argued, regulation is continual and focused control exercised by a public agency over activities that are valued by a community. All governments, because they understand the political and social value of the media, develop some policies aimed at regulating and controlling them. In fact, the method by which governments try to achieve such control varies. David Croteau (2011), argued that some nations have taken direct authoritarian control of media through state ownership and the banning of opposition media. But most nations engage in media regulation that is non-authoritarian in nature.

There is a contradiction inherent to the concept of regulating what is supposed to be the free

means of expression and information in a modern society. Regulation by its very nature sets limits to freedom, which is the most basic principle of democratic societies. As Hitchens (2006) writes:

To be an effective contributor to the democratic process, the media, as a channel for ideas and information and generator of debate, must be able to offer a variety of voices and views, and operate independently, without the undue dominance of public or private power (2006, p. 32).

The notion is that the media, which endowment ample benefit should not plunge under power group. If the media are losing their freedom by power group then they will not serve the societies as expected.


There is no single answer to the question, why are media regulated. The issue of regulation is intertwined with that of free expressions and where free expression may be considered harmful. Obonyo and Nyamboga (2011) suggest that these may have to be regulated. They write:

One can understand the dilemma of the legislators. If journalism does require a certain degree of respectability then it cannot be an open forum where everybody can do as they please. There must be some sort of gate to separate journalists from others (2011, p. 73).

Media can affect people’s thinking and behavior to a remarkable extent, both for the good and for bad. Harnessing its power to work for the democratic process is one of the key purposes of regulation (Solomon, 2006).


There is a range of approaches to implementing media regulation. And a variety of regulatory options and tools are required to successfully address various types of policy problems, community concerns, and market issues. Also, states have adopted different forms of media regulation ranging from self-regulation, co-regulation and statutory regulation.

According to Kimumwe (2014), more developed democracies have tended to enact legislations that guarantee media freedom as well as permit the media to regulate itself, while the dictatorial ones have embraced the statutory form of regulation by passing legislations that effectively seek to control the media.

Therefore, currently, at least three main models of media regulation have been identified: such as regulation by the Government (statutory regulation), by the industry itself (self-regulation) and by a combination of both the Government and the industry (co-regulation). Statutory Regulation

The models of government regulation differ worldwide and are not adapted to a set formula hence the level of governme


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