State of the media

The first newspaper in the Comoros was launched in 1985, after a UNESCO study revealed that Comoros was the only UN member lacking print and electronic media. Since then written, audiovisual, and electronic media have developed. Most media use French, the language of formal education (although Arabic is the predominant spoken language). Radio is the dominant medium.

Written press
The Comoros have several independent newspapers. Al-Watwan is the semi-official weekly, the first to be launched in the Comoros. An independent weekly, L’Archipel, began publishing in 1988. Most Comorian papers publish weekly. Circulation rates are low due to poverty, poor distribution networks, high illiteracy, and a weak advertising market.

Audiovisual media
The broadcast landscape of the Comoros consists of the national state-run network, regional broadcasting services, and private stations. France provided the funds to set up the national television service. Radio and TV broadcasts from the neighboring French island of Mayotte can be received in parts of the Comoros.

Radio is by far the most important medium on the Comoros. Until 1984 the state-run Radio Comoro, transmitting from Moroni, was not strong enough to broadcast clear signals to the Republic's other two islands. In 1984, France agreed to provide Radio Comoro with funding for an FM transmitter strong enough to broadcast to all three islands. Radio Comoro broadcasts in FM in Swahili and French, and internationally on SW in Swahili, Arabic and French. Radio Tropique is run by the opposition. Furthermore, there are several private radio stations.

Online media
Due to high poverty rates, access to the Internet is limited with only about 20,000 internet users. Comores Telecom is the Internet service provider. The government is not censoring or restricting Internet access.

News agencies
A news agency, Agence Comores Presse, is based in the capital Moroni.

Media organizations
The main professional organization is the Organisation Comorienne de la Presse Ecrite. It was established on May 3, 2004 in order to promote the development of media on the archipelago, defend press freedom and the right to access information.

Media policies
Legal protection was given to the principles of freedom of speech and of the press for the first time with the adoption of a new constitution in 2001. Since then, these rights have generally been respected by the government, but journalists are still regularly subject to harsh defamation laws and harassment.

Media developments and trends
The election of President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi has raised fears that the Comoros will become an Islamic republic. His approach to press freedom and the media is being closely monitored.