The media operate against a backdrop of political power struggles and violent unrest.
"Freedom of information is constantly violated and journalists are exposed to threats, physical violence, arrest, prolonged detention and even murder," says Reporters Without Borders.
Nonetheless, the press is able to criticise the government and some publications carry opposition party views.
There are hundreds of radio stations and scores of TV networks. Most of them are privately run and the owners of the leading outlets often have political connections.
Radio is the top medium; a handful of stations, including state-run RTNC, broadcast nationwide. Terrestrial TV is mainly confined to the main towns.
The UN Mission in DR Congo (Monuc) and a Swiss-based organisation, Fondation Hirondelle, operate Radio Okapi. The influential network employs mostly-Congolese staff.
The BBC broadcasts on FM in Kinshasa (92.7), Lubumbashi (92.0), Kisangani (92.0), Goma (93.3) and Bukavu (102.2). .
Radio France Internationale (RFI) is widely available on FM too. On occasion, the authorities have suspended its relays because of its coverage.
Daily newspapers have low print-runs and rarely circulate outside Kinshasa.
There were more than 5 million internet users by 2017 (InternetWorldStats). Facebook is the leading social media platform.
The government has restricted internet and SMS access during times of heightened tension.