State of the media in Southern Africa - 2003
Policy and media legal framework.
Development in the media in Tanzania has been buoyed by the release of a new information and
broadcasting policy by the Government, in October 2003.
The new policy is based on collective recommendations of all media stakeholders and paves the
way for the existence of conditions conducive to the full enjoyment of all democratic rights,
including the right to freedom of information and expression.
The Government has expressed its commitment to review, amend or repeal all laws that undermine freedom of expression and press freedom and to that effect has invited stakeholders to
contribute to the media law reform process. The aim is to have a single law guiding the operations of the media in the country. Presently the media industry is guided by over six different
pieces of legislation.
In April 2003, the Parliament enacted the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act,
2003 for the purpose of regulating the telecommunications, broadcasting, post services and other
ICT applications.
The Act will lead to the establishment of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Consumer
Consultative Council (TCRA), which will replace and harmonize the duties of the Tanzania
Communication Commission (TCC) and the Tanzania Broadcasting Commission (TBC). Hitherto, TCC was responsible for the planning and management of frequency spectrum, while
TBC was responsible for the issuance of broadcasting licenses and supervision of broadcasting activities.
Unlike in the TBC where the Minister had the sole authority to appoint members of the Board,
under section 37(1) and (2), a 10 member council to be known as the TCRA Consumer Consultative Council is to be appointed. Nominations to the Council are to be provided by members of the
business community and/ or organizations legally recognized as being representatives of private
sector interests, including Non-Governmental Organizations and civil society.
Professional incompetence.
The pursuit of a free and independent press in Tanzania, however, is challenged by professional
mediocrity on the part of journalists and the appalling conditions under which they work. This is
attested by the fact that 63% of working journalists in the country are mere certificate holders
obtained after attending courses whose duration ranges from one week to three months.
Journalists on their part have not been very enthusiastic to recognize themselves as belonging to
the same corps. They do not hesitate to exaggerate the differences between the trained and untrained, those who work in the official media and those in the private press. While journalists of
the government media are fighting one another for administrative positions and sinecures, those
of the private media are battling for survival through blackmail and slander. The tendency to
discredit certain units of the profession and to undercut one another has led to unnecessary rivalry among journalists.
Media proprietors take advantage of the situation to exploit, subjugate and use journalists in
their business and political battles. The shunting of editors like locomotive engines in some
newsrooms, is just one example. The other, is misuse of freelance reporters. Like casual laborers
on a construction site, they provide an endless pool of cheap labour. Through blackmail and
intimidation they remain loyal to newspapers that pay for their efforts, and dare not expand
So This Is Democracy? 2003


Media Institute of Southern Africa

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