Editorial independence in public broadcasting in Africa: case study of Tanzania broadcasting corporation during multi-party presidential elections, 1995-2010

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The university of Dar es Salaam
The main objective of this study, was to assess the extent to which Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation exercised editorial independence during the 1995-2010 Presidential elections and whether coverage was objective and fair, and whether TBC’s editorial content during Presidential nominations within the political parties was objective and fair and also the extent to which government and political parties influenced TBC’s editorial content. Similarly, whether TBC’s editorial content influenced voters perceptions of presidential candidates. 528 respondents participated in this study and were drawn from the general public, journalists, police, politicians, political party officials and party agents, and National Electoral Commission. These respondents were conveniently and purposively selected. The survey used a case study research design. Data for this study was collected using a combination of methods including face to face interviews, using structured and standardized questions with both close ended and open ended questions which were self administered to respondents, key informant interviews and Focus Group Discussions. Qualitative data was analyzed qualitatively and quantitative data was analyzed quantitatively. A Predictive Analytical Software (PSW) was used to generate frequence, percentage tables and graphs. Key findings revealed that, even though legally TBC is an autonomous public broadcaster, with editorial independence, its editorial independence is compromised mainly by TBC’s structural bias and self-censorship and to a lesser extent by partisan bias and laws, hence, TBC’s biased editorial content which favoured the ruling party and its presidential candidate. This influenced TBC’s editorial content indirectly, but this did not influence voters’ perception of presidential candidates to a large extent. Findings further revealed that TBC’s Establishment Order of 2007 contained sections that could be effectively used to advocate for transformation of TBC into a truly public broadcaster and finance TBC adequately and protect TBC from arbitrary interference from external forces, be they political or commercial. In view of the above this study recommends the following: TBC should be re-allocated under a truly autonomous independent regulatory authority; the government should prepare a Bill to re-allocate and transform TBC into a truly public broadcaster and this should be discussed in Parliament and the general public. Finally it is recommended that TBC Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer should be selected through a competitive and open system and TBC should be adequately funded from its own independent sources with the government providing only a small subsidy for production of service programme
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Public broadcasting, Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, Africa
Mwaffisi, M.S.(2013). Editorial independence in public broadcasting in Africa: case study of Tanzania broadcasting corporation during multi-party presidential elections, 1995-2010. Master dissertation, university of Dar es Salaam. Available at