Broadcasting is one of the most powerful tools for access to information and freedom of expression in southern Africa. Radio and television are the most accessible forms of media with radio having the largest penetration and mobile networks providing a golden opportunity for communication and advocacy.
Since the mid 1990’s, MISA has been campaigning for greater broadcasting diversity in southern Africa to combat the domination of state broadcasters and the exclusion of other voices. We advocate for a three-tier system for broadcasting: public service, commercial and community, as outlined in the African Charter on Broadcasting.
Currently, MISA Tanzania is working in collaboration with relevant stakeholders in reviewing the 2017 broadcasting regulations and share the suggestions with the relevant Ministry.
Community and public service broadcasting
Community media is operated in the community, for the community, about the community and by the community. It is independent, free from political or commercial interference and can therefore facilitate public platforms for debate and discussion and promote social agendas.
The reach of community media, particularly radio, means it provides information and a platform of expression to remote, grassroots communities that may not be represented in other media.
The main challenges community radio and television faces in the region are: lack of legislation, regulation and infrastructure to support the establishment and licensing of community media; and the inability to sustain themselves beyond donor seed money.
Public service broadcasting
Public service broadcasting is created, financed and controlled by the public, for the public. It is neither commercial nor state-owned, and is therefore free from political or commercial interference.
Public service broadcasting informs, educates and entertains. It is an essential part of a pluralistic, diverse broadcasting sector.
Legal frameworks for broadcasting
In 2001, during a UNESCO conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the original Windhoek Declaration, a representative group of African media practitioners raised concerns that the declaration focused on promoting print media and was silent on issues such as broadcasting liberalisation and the globalisation of the communications industry.
These issues have far reaching social and economic implications for media freedom and threaten to jeopardize the production of media that reflects Africa’s rich cultural diversity.
As a result, the African Charter on Broadcasting was developed as a blueprint for policies and laws determining the future of broadcasting and information technology in Africa.
Significantly, the Declaration advocates for a three-tier system for broadcasting: public service, commercial and community and stipulates that the legal framework for broadcasting should include a clear statement of the principles underpinning broadcast regulation, including promoting respect for freedom of expression, diversity, and the free flow of information and ideas.