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ZA KISWAHILI

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The Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) is monitoring the coverage of the campaign and proceedings of the 2015 elections in both print and electronic media.

The Executive Secretary of MCT, Kajubi Mukajanga said over the weekend that the Council will start giving out weekly reports on the coverage of the elections this coming Friday.

He said the cut off point for the weekly reports will be every Thursday and the reports will be delivered electronically to editors of media outlets.

Due to limited email access to the Council’s stakeholders especially in up-country, he said,  it will also issue printed copies of the reports.

He said the Council has suspended its monitoring activities on other things - how the media covers corruption, constitution and gender to concentrate on the elections.

However he said, the question of corruption, constitution or gender will be monitored as part of election campaign.

Mukajanga explained that MCT has limited itself to monitoring of elections due to tight budget.

To beef up the Council’s monitoring activities, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development ( DFID) has committed to provide 100, 000 pounds support.

He also said MCT entered into contract with Push Oberver to help facilitate monitoring of electronic media as it has the technology and capacity to monitor both Television and Radio.

“Push Observer has the technology to capture issues broadcasted in electronic media - radio and television - all over the country. What we will do is give them a catch -word then they capture every bulletin and programmes for 24 hrs everyday”, Mukajanga said.

“ This means we do not need to be there when the bulletin is aired. This is going to help us very much”, he added

Traditionally in the past elections, the Council used to engage so many monitors and provide them with radio and television sets compelling them to listen fulltime .This time around with the Push Observer technology, we would not be required to do so, he said.

On the monitoring reports that would be released weekly and monthly, Mukajanga said they will have a section of Zanzibar as they want the Isles to feature distinctively or otherwise it may be swamped.

He said   they think the elections there will be very close and do not want the media to mess-up.

Whenever the Council notices a serious trend in reportage, it shall call press conference and engage with editors to hear what their problems are and discuss because the intention is to make sure the media does not mess up with election coverage rules laid out by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and that media election reporting code of conduct is adhered to.

The spirit is to ensure that the media helps to contain the country together and does not become its debilitating factor.

On media performance relating to the elections so far, Mukajanga said “we are having a challenge. Much as we would want the media to above what is going on to stand out there and be objective, there is one factor that when media and media personnel are operating in society, the excitement in society, the challenge and pressures are also bearing on them.”

“We see a situation where some of the outlets are taking positions---which is not bad --- taking position is not bad, he said.

The position of the Media Council is that people can take positions but…. media outlets can take position but they should make their positions clear, he said.

He cautioned that” what we are saying is wrong is that even if you are supporting a certain candidate, it is not a warrant to print lies about the opponent or a warrant to stop doing journalism and doing propaganda… that is our problem”.

However we have come to notice that some owners of media put pressure on their editors to slant their reporting and sometime giving out false quotations and even suggesting headlines of their own taste.

It is important, Mukajanga said such owners, let the professionals do their work efficiently and effectively.

Touching on the Dar es Salaam Declaration Editorial Freedom and Independence (DEFIR) issued by MCT which stipulate roles of editors, journalists, media owners , advertisers and even politicians, Mukajanga said it has not registered anticipated impact especially with the owners.

The Council has now resolved to take it to higher level - to have it included in the teachings at University level to promote the culture of independence and responsibility to journalism graduates and professionals.

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