Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA)

Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) is Rwanda’s national public broadcaster that operates one national television channel and eight radio stations. The company used to be known as Office Rwandais de Information (ORINFOR) until 2013 when RBA was established. RBA also manages a Parliament radio station that broadcasts nationally.

Media assets

Television: Rwanda Television 1, KC2 TV

Radio: Radio Rwanda, Radio Inteko, Magic FM, Radio Musanze, Radio Rusizi, Radio Huye, Radio Nyagatare, Radio Rubavu

State Media Matrix Typology: State-Controlled (SC)

Ownership and governance

RBA was established by Law N°42/2013 as a public agency to act as Rwanda’s public service broadcaster to replace the former government-owned media outlet Office Rwandais d’Information (ORINFOR).

The state has a stake of 20% in RBA, according to the law, the rest being controlled by private investors. However, the names of these investors haven’t been made public, local journalists saying that this information is classified because the investors are connected with businesses controlled by President Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The highest governing body at RBA is the Board of Directors that consists of seven members, all of whom, including the Chair and a Deputy Chair, being appointed through a presidential order. The appointment follows the approval by Cabinet and a selection process that is supposed to be transparent, according to legal requirements. The RBA Board of Directors reports to the Ministry of Local Government.

Source of funding and budget

RBA receives part of its budget in the form of state funding, but also competes for advertising with other media to complement its financial resources. In 2020, RBA was allocated by the state a total of RWF 2.7bn (US$ 2.7m). In 2019, RBA received from the state a subsidy of RWF 4.71bn (US$ 4.7m), more than RWF 3.4bn of which was spent on infrastructure and new equipment.

RBA also receives important amounts of government advertising, prompting other media to complain about RBA’s being privileged as it receives both state and commercial funding. Information about the state advertising money contracted to RBA is not available. When the government reformed the RBA in 2013, transforming it into a public agency, one of its plans was to gradually decrease the state funding in RBA and make the broadcaster self-sustainable.

RBA does not release information about the share of state funding in its total budget. According to journalists covering Rwanda, the state funding still represents a significant amount (surely more than 50% of RBA’s total income).

Editorial independence

RBA Law No 42/2013 explicitly stresses the agency’s editorial Independence. The law was meant to make RBA more autonomous from the state than its predecessor, ORINFOR. However, some observers have questioned the broadcaster’s impartiality, hinting at the ties between the government and RBA’s Director General, Arthur Asiimwe. An ad hoc content analysis found that many of the stories run by RBA maintain the official stance and reverential style towards the authorities. The broadcaster continues to act rather as a megaphone to disseminate government policies than as an independent media outlet.

RBA was supposed to adopt its own Editorial and Production Guidelines that define institutional values and core editorial principles. However, there is no evidence that they have been adopted thus far.

The National Electoral Commission of Rwanda, an independent agency created by the government in 2000, in one of its media monitoring projects, concluded that there was fairness and balanced reporting in the coverage of the 2017 presidential elections. RBA can also be subjected to investigation by the country’s Ombudsman Office.

However, there is no specific independent assessment or oversight mechanism to validate the editorial independence of RBA.

September 2023