Tanzania bans all domestic broadcasters from carrying foreign-made content

Tanzania President Pombe Magufuli/ COURTESY/ REUTERS

Tanzania has banned all domestic broadcasters from carrying foreign-made content without government permission.

Through some new regulations dubbed the Electronic and Postal Communications Radio and Television Content Amendment Regulation 2020, the government has gagged the media, which is already muzzled.

For instance, the new laws demand the presence of a government minder when covering a local story with a foreigner.

The government of President Pombe Mafufuli says this will ‘improve content’.

BBC correspondent Ferdinand Omondi said under the new law, foreign correspondents cannot work with local journalist and fixers, unless a government official is with them wherever they go.

“The Tanzanian government has already cracked down on domestic journalists. They have been intimidated, banned, and even jailed. Now, it seems state is training guns on the foreign press, seeking total control of the content Tanzania citizens consume,” Omondi said.

President Magufuli has been accused of systemically reducing the space for the opposition, civil society and media during his tenure.

Major media outlets have increasingly been brought under government control and attacks on journalists and opposition figures have increased.

Last month, Tanzanian authorities suspended Kwanza TV, accusing it of violating rules for republishing a health alert from the US Embassy stating the risk of contracting Covid-19 in the country remains high.

In a public statement on July 9, Kwanza Broadcasting Limited said it had received with “disbelief the decision of the Content Committee to suspend Kwanza Online TV for 11 months”.

Late June, the government banned Tanzania Daima, a daily newspaper, allegedly for flouting communication laws.

Earlier on June 15, privately-owned Mawio paper was banned for 24 months, with the government suspending both its print edition and online platforms. On April 16, 2020, Tanzania’s communications regulator banned the privately owned Mwananchi newspaper from publishing online for six months and fined it five million Tanzanian shillings ($2,173) for allegedly publishing false news.

In 2017 alone, at least four newspapers were suspended and shut down.

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