Derren Manning, the Director of Democracy and Governance at the US Embassy in Juba (far right), and other prominent media personnel cut a cake during the 12th anniversary of Eye Media. (Photo: Awan Moses).
Eye Media celebrated the 12 anniversaries of its founding on Saturday and reflected on its history, achievements and future challenges.
The media organization was first established in 2003 as Sudan Radio Service by US-based organization – Education Development Center.
It emerged in the beginning of the end of the second Sudanese civil war, reported extensively on the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
With its initial offices in Nairobi Kenya, Sudan Radio Service first broadcasted in English, Arabic and six national languages; in Dinka, Azande, Shilluk, Nuer, Bari and Moru.
After South Sudan seceded from the North, it was renamed Eye Radio, under the umbrella of the Eye Media organization.
So far, it has 11 repeaters in Yambio, Wau, Aweil, Kuajok, Renk, Malakal, and Baliet among others, in addition to its main station in Juba.
The radio station reaches between 4 to 5 million listeners and over 17 to 20 million viewers and readers on its websites and social media handles.
Speaking during the anniversary event on Saturday, the Commissioner of Juba County, Charles Joseph Wani called on the government to cooperate with the media by allowing access to information.
“To build a society, we must build it through media, because radio is the mirror that sees what is bad to be corrected. And when media personnel comes, we begin to run. I want to tell all the politicians and all of us that we can never run,” says Joseph.
“This is because they know the truth about the government and they will come and proclaim it to society.”
“If we don’t give them the information, they will not know the truth, and will begin to collect information from the roads where enemies of the government are found. This is because we are not accessible, then they will go for those who are accessible.”
Since its inception 18 years ago, Eye Media has continued to rely on U.S. to cover its expensive operation.
It still depends on the donor support in the meantime due to sustainability challenge.
“This continues to be the largest threat to independent media in the country,” says Stephen Omiri, Chief Executive Officer of Eye Media.
“We are grateful for the US government and several of our partners for their unwavering support.”
In September 2021, Eye Radio was forced to suspend broadcast in national languages due to financial constraints after the end of its funding agreement with its partner – Internews.
However, over the years, Eye Media, through its major activity, has developed partnership with Non-governmental organizations government agencies and telecommunication companies.
On his part, Derren Manning, the Director of Democracy and Governance at the US embassy in Juba noted that the organization plays a major role in politics, economics, and the social fabric of the country.
Addressing the occasion on December 10, Manning said the USA will continue to provide support to independent media in the country.
“USAID and USA embassy in South Sudan are proud of the history we have with Eye radio and what Eye radio has become eye radio has demonstrated,” he said.
“The media sector can impact every aspect of democracy and governance effort in South Sudan Eye radio has played a leading role in politics, economics, and the social fabric of the country.”
“As we walk to the future, and despite the reduced funding, USAID will continue to support eye radio’s ability to improve access to credible accurate and reliable information for the audience by promoting it sustainability and high-quality program.”