Kwanza TV, a private-owned Tanzanian internet broadcaster, has requested the country’s competition tribunal for more time to file a new appeal after the initial one challenging a six-month ban imposed by state broadcasting authority was dismissed.
In the suspension dated September 27, 2019, the Committee of Tanzanian Regulatory Authority (TCRA) also imposed Tsh5 million (Ksh220,514) fine on two other online stations, Watetezi TV and Ayo TV.
Watetezi TV is owned by Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, a network of local nongovernmental organizations.
The authority accused the three stations of contravening country’s content regulations by failing to publish user policies and guidelines.
In a statement, Kwanza TV noted that the authority slapped the broadcaster with the ban after publishing a report on an accident involving the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) for health, Dr Dorothy Gwajima.
The committee accused the station, run by Kwanza Broadcasting Limited, of airing misleading information after referring to Dr Dorothy Gwajima as “Dr Gwajima” in the headline instead of her full name.
The report appeared in the station’s Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter pages.
According to Kwanza TV, the committee argued that hat the report could have been misconstrued as referring to popular Bishop Josephat Gwajima, a Tanzanian pastor.
“The authority alleged that we violated Regulation 7 (1)(a) & (b) of the Electronic and Postal Communication (Online Content) Regulations 2018, jointly read with regulations 15(2)(b)(c) of the Electronic and Postal Communications (Radio and television Content Broadcast) Regulations 2018, by not adhering to journalistic professionalism and ethics and that the news report intended to mislead, ” said Kwanza TV.
Kwanza TV dismissed the allegations saying its report met all important standards of journalism and broadcast.
“Our report showed the actual incident of the government vehicle that had carried Dr Gwajima and was on fire at night. We interviewed Dr Gwajima herself, visible with her face and voice narrating the incident. We also interviewed the driver of the car and two other witnesses, ” the statement adds.
Watetezi TV also faced similar accusations from (TCRA).
In availability of user policy and guidelines, Kwanza TV and Watetezi TV managements stated that that the law did not explicitly require them to publish such policies, and that the documents could be made available to users on request.
Kwanza TV’s first appeal of the suspension was rejected by Tanzania’s Fair Competition Tribunal in November 2019.
On the other hand, a hearing date for Watetezi TV’s appeal is expected to be set during a January 15, 2020, session of the tribunal.
Bertha Nanyaro, the station’s lawyer, who spoke with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said the station has not paid the fine pending its appeal.
CPJ reached out to Ayo TV, run by Millard Ayo, via email but couldn’t get a response on if the station intended to appeal or if it had settled the fine.
— Maria Sarungi Tsehai (@MariaSTsehai) September 30, 2019