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Lack of institutional support structures

The US Department of State and USAID have spent more than half a billion dollars on media development in the past five years. Their combined budgets for 2010 saw USD 140.7 million allocated to media support - a 36% increase over 2009 spending and an even more dramatic rise from the USD 68.9 million spent five years earlier (Mottaz, 2010).

Figures are available for expenditure on media support outside of the US, though comparative figures are not available for 2010. OECD reporting from 2005 through to 2007, however, indicated an increase in donor assistance to the media sector - up from USD 47.9 million to USD 81.7 million over two years. While consolidated figures are not available, EU mechanisms also provide considerable financial support to the media.

Despite this substantial level of investment, there are few institutional focal points (outside of the US) within key donor organisations attempting to make sense of the media’s role in development, let alone as an accountability mechanism. The lack of an institutional home for these issues will continue to undermine efforts to better understand, measure and strengthen the role of the media as a domestic accountability mechanism.

Keeping pace with a shifting media landscape

Social media and mobile technologies are increasingly shaping the way people interact with politics and represent an increasingly important accountability mechanism. New information and communication technologies (ICT) have added channels and platforms for citizens to hold their government accountable.

A more limited body of evidence exists on ICT (mostly focusing on European and American contexts), but given the pace of change and the rate of Internet/mobile proliferation in many developing economies, building an evidence base remains very much a work in progress. However, a growing list of initiatives illustrates the possibilities and potentials of using social media and mobile technologies to increase domestic accountability.7 Donors need to be aware that new technologies and mobile applications change the rules of the game completely and constantly.

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