Practice briefing: Doing debate differently: media and accountability


The rapid spread of radio, TV, mobile and the internet means more people have access to information than ever before. But boosting people’s access to information is not sufficient to make government more accountable or responsive to their needs. Just as important is helping to create an environment in which people feel able to understand, discuss and influence the issues that matter to them as well as being able to engage with – and influence - the people in power.

Publication date: February 2017

Author: Will Taylor

Overview: This paper discusses a number of ways in which media plays a part in increasing accountability. It draws on quantitative and qualitative data from BBC Media Action’s work in nine countries.

It finds that:

  • Media can influence accountability by empowering people, creating opportunities for constructive public debate and influencing power
  • Development donors and practitioners need to integrate media more fully into their empowerment and accountability strategies

In 2017 BBC Media Action will complete a six year, multi-country project to support improved accountability through public dialogue. Partnering with over 135 media and civil society organisations, BBC Media Action supported broadcast programmes that have reached more than 190 million people. In 2016, the governance programmes supported by BBC Media Action reached an average of 37% of the adult population of the countries in which they were broadcast. This paper seeks to explore how the lessons from that support can contribute to the wider empowerment and accountability agenda, and to set out challenges for the future of media, empowerment and accountability work.