Tanzania has lifted a ban on one of two privately owned radio stations that had been put off-air indefinitely for allegedly broadcasting seditious content.
The Content Committee of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) unbanned Dar es Salaam-based Magic FM on Friday, ordering the station to air apologies during its news broadcast.
“The verdict of TCRA is to give Magic FM Radio a severe warning. In addition they should apologise to President John Magufuli, listeners and Tanzanians in general, for three consecutive days during the 10am and 9pm news bulletins, starting September 17, 2016.
“The apology must be given prominence during the news bulletins in question,” read the decision announced by the committee vice chairman, Joseph Mapunda.
Arusha-based Radio Five was not lucky. The authority suspended the station for a further three months and ordered it to pay a Tsh5 million (about $2,300) fine in addition to being put under government supervision for a full year.
On August 17 this year, Magic FM Radio is said to have aired content in its Morning Magic programme, from 7am to 8am, which is alleged to have been intended to “ridicule, revile and humiliate the president” and cause a breakdown of law and order.
The station is accused to have further allowed its listeners to send in texts “that contained messages of hatred, animosity, disdain and contempt all aimed at inciting the public against the government.”
As to why the TCRA pardoned the station, it said: “After having gone through the defence by Magic FM Radio, the Committee is of the view that indeed the management of the radio station was unequivocally apologetic over what transpired.”
Radio Five is accused of allowing an opposition legislator it had invited to ridicule the president during its 8pm to 9pm evening show Matukio on August 25.
According to the Committee, Godbless Lema, a legislator from main opposition party Chadema, was given leeway “to criticise and humiliate, sow seeds of hatred, and incite the public to take part in an illegal demonstration that had been barred by the security forces, besides encouraging the public to rise against the police force.”
The station was ordered to pay the $2,300 penalty within 30 days.
The two stations had been shut down on August 29 by the Minister of Information Mr Nape Nnauye for violating the Broadcasting Act.
The two stations are however allowed to appeal the verdict with one month.