Media Development


Despite the role that media plays in helping to build free and open societies, media development programs are often fragmented and poorly funded, making up a tiny fraction of overall development spending. The estimated $625 million spent on media development each year comes from a variety of sources, however, including governments and private institutions. The funding models for media development projects vary from top-down approaches to grassroots investment—but how and why do donors make interventions? On a broader focus: How does funding create incentives for supporting effectiveness, sustainability, and innovation?

What are the funding models for media development, and how much do donors provide? How can we better track funding for media development by governments and donor agencies?

Funding in Media Development

The amount of money spent on media development is a fraction of overall development assistance worldwide. This amount is fragmented–rarely are concrete numbers aggregated. There are many reasons for a lack of reliable data on funding for media development, among them:

  • Lack of coordination and sharing of information by donors among themselves.
  • The fact that some media-support projects and programs originate in foreign embassies or aid missions and are not centrally planned.
  • Often, media-related projects are part of a larger development or assistant program and the information about the media component is not captured in databases.

CIMA monitors funding for media development through its reports and events, such as U.S. Government Funding for Media: Trends and Strategies; Empowering Independent Media: U.S. Efforts to Foster a Free Press and an Open Internet Around the World; Continental Shift: New Trends in Private U.S. Funding for Media Development; Funding Free Expression: Perceptions and Reality in a Changing Landscape; and Africa’s Media Boom: The Role of International Aid.
Early in 2015, CIMA launched a long-term project to survey donors worldwide to learn more about their priorities and goals and to try to better assess just how much funding, both government and from private organizations, is going into support for media development.


How are media development programs designed and implemented? What are the tools used for diagnostics and evaluation? What is the impact of media development interventions?


What is the legal and political enabling environment for media? How do media organizations achieve financial independence? How do media development programs create a standard of professionalism?


What are the new practices for media in the twenty-first century? How is the media landscape changing and how can media development donors and implementers embrace new trends?