Dar es Salaam. The government has shut down two radio stations indefinitely for allegedly airing seditious content.
Dar es Salaam-based Magic FM and Radio Five Arusha had been banned effective yesterday, the Minister of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Mr Nape Nnauye, said at a news conference in Dar es Salaam.
He said the decision followed “seditious” content broadcast by Magic FM and Radio Five on August 17 and 25, respectively.
Magic FM aired content in its Morning Magic programme from 7am to 8am, which had the potential to cause a breakdown of law and order, Mr Nnauye said.
Radio Five also allegedly broadcast seditious content in its Matukio programme aired from 8pm to 9pm.
By doing so, the two radio stations violated the Broadcasting Services Regulations (Content), the minister added.
“I’m thus using powers bestowed on me by Section 28 (1) of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act of 2003 to shut down Radio Five and Magic FM for their flagrant violation of regulations.”
The minister also directed the Content Committee of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority to summon the owners of the radio stations. The committee will the advise the minister on the way forward after meeting the stations’ owners.
Reached for comment, the Executive Secretary of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Mr Kajubi Mukajanga, said the decision had “shocked and surprised” MCT.
He said Tanzania needed a free and vibrant media to ensure good governance, adding that the country could not claim to be promoting democracy when media outlets were being arbitrarily shut down for airing and publishing opinions the government did not want to hear.
“We are concerned about the government’s clampdown on the media in the country. It’s unfair to shut media outlets for carrying content that is not viewed favourably by the government. Democracy can only flourish in an environment of diverse opinions.”
The closure of Radio Five and Magic FM takes to three the number of private media outlets shut by the government this month.
The Kiswahili weekly Mseto was banned for three years on August 11 for allegedly publishing an article that was aimed at turning the public against President John Magufuli.
The offending article was published on August 4 under the headline “Waziri amchafua JPM” (Minister tarnishes JPM’s reputation).
The story was about Dr Magufuli and former acting managing director of State Mining Corporation, Mr Edwin Ngonyani, who is now the Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communications.
The article alleged that Mr Ngonyani received financial support from foreign businesspersons in the run-up to last year’s General Election.
It was reported in the story that some of the money went into Dr Magufuli’s campaign ahead of the October 25 elections.
Early this year, President Magufuli said he never accepted money from local or foreign businesspersons during his campaign for State House.
Reported by Jonas John and Louis Kolumbia