Challenging times for Tanzanian broadcasters

Local broadcasting stations that air international content will see the going tough as the communications regulator amends its regulations to compel them to seek its approval before airing such materials.

By John Namkwahe Twitter @johnteck3 – Originally Published by The Citizen

The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) – through its Content Committee – has amended its Electronic and Postal Communications (Radio and Television Content) Regulations, 2020 by introducing additional sub-sections to Section 37 to among others, compel licensed local broadcasters to seek the regulator’s nod before airing either national or international content, which they generate in collaboration with another online content providers.

In a move that will impact local stations that air content from international media outlets including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VoA), Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) and Radio France International (RFI) among others, TCRA’s amendments further state that the licensed local broadcaster who partner  with the external broadcaster will be responsible for consequences related to violation of the amended regulations. In line with this amendment, some local broadcasters have been summoned for interrogation over the violation of the regulations. The communications regulator yesterday summoned the management of Radio Free Africa also known as RFA for interrogation, accusing the local radio station of violating section 15(2) (b), (c) and 16 of the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, 2018. According to a leaked letter, a copy of which The Citizen has seen, TCRA’s Content Committee Vice-Chairperson Mr Joseph Mapunda wants the Mwanza-based radio station to be held responsible over contents aired on “Amka na BBC”.

The content in question is one in which the radio aired an interview dialogue with vice chairman (Tanzania Mainland) of the main opposition political party, Chadema, Mr Tundu Lissu, in which he claimed that he was denied by the government to pay his last respects to late former President Benjamin Mkapa.

According to the letter, TCRA found the local radio station guilty of violating the regulations by airing Mr Lissu’s claims without seeking clarification from the government spokesperson.

TCRA ordered the local radio station to submit to its headquarters in Dar es Salaam the written explanations in relation to the offence.

Mr Samuel Nyala, director of Sahara Media Group – which operates RFA, confirmed yesterday that his office had received the letter from the regulator and they appeared before the regulator’s offices in the city for interrogation as instructed.