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Media Council of Tanzania Website
Members of the Coalition on the Right to Information (CORI) have taken their campaign to improve the proposed Media Services and the Access Information to Television audience.
They have so far appeared on three networks Channel Ten, Azam TV and ITV.
They are asking the government to consider their concerns on the proposed legislations which some have termed as draconian.
They are appealing to the government to accommodate stakeholders’ contributions and change or repeal some contentious clauses.
The most sticking elements including the licensing, registration and de-registration of journalists and planned new bodies – Media Accreditation Board, Council and Fund.
Their composition which is largely made of government officials raises eyebrows and makes their loyalty questionable.
Some are of the views that most proposed restrictions in the new laws are tantamount to infringing press freedom and freedom of expression.
Another contentious issue is the requirement for all TV station to hook with TBC – the purported national broadcaster – for 20.00hrs bulletin.
Pertinent issues raised on the matter are – if TBC errs would the other stations be held accountable and will TBC share advertising revenue with the other stations?
Appearing on the Je Tutafika (Shall we make it) programme on Channel Ten on June 14, 2014 moderated by veteran journalist Makwaia wa Kuhenga, three panelists – Pili Mtambalike the Regulations and Standard Manager of Media Council of Tanzania(MCT), Saed Kubenea the Managing Director of Hali Halisi the publishers of weekly Mawio newspaper and on-line version of the banned Mwanahalisi newspaper, and rtd Justice Juxon Mlay , Chairperson of the MCT’s Ethics committee were of the view that the proposed laws were harsh.
Kubenea went as far as asking the President Jakaya Kikwete to suspend tabling of the bills as Members of Parliament would not adequately discuss them as they are pre-occupied with their re-election bids as the general election is around the corner.
Mtambalike on her part said it was surprising that the government has come out with proposals which are contrary to the media policy of 2003 which it jointly agreed with media stakeholders.
Justice Mlay said the issue now is that the wants to usurp the regulation role which was handled by media practitioners themselves for the past 20 years.
The Media Services and the Access to Information Bills were tabled for first reading during the March session of Parliament and are expected to be tabled and finally passed during the on-going Budget session.
President Kikwete has approved an extension of 10 days for the session so that it passes all the remaining Bills and has clearly stated his intention to sign the two laws on media and information before he leaves the State House at the end of his tenure after the October General election.
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