Political candidates in western Tanzania can no longer insult their opponents during radio ads on the region’s leading station.
During a media seminar hosted by Internews, journalists and managers discussed media law, election coverage, and how to limit offensive comments during a political campaign. Staff from CG FM – a leading radio station in the western zone of Tabora – later drafted a special contract for politicians to sign before they go on air.
Focusing on the airtime candidates buy as part of their campaign strategy, the contract forbids them from slandering or defaming their opponents during such broadcasts.
CG FM journalist Vivian Pyuza says, “Political broadcasts are important – they allow candidates to answer listeners’ questions and are a key source of revenue for a radio station. But if a candidate makes offensive statements, we can all get into trouble.”
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During Tanzania’s 2015 general election, CG FM had to issue a public apology after a politician insulted an opponent who later threatened to sue for defamation.
Program manager Najjat Omar adds, “That’s why we propose this new contract. It’s quite simple: candidates can buy airtime and explain their ideas to the public. But if they start insulting people, we’ll mute the microphone and there will be no refunds..”
CG FM Chief Editor Titus Philipo says, “I’ve covered many elections in the last forty-five years, but I’ve never seen anything like this contract. It’s simple yet powerful. I hope other stations will adopt it.”
Boresha Habari is a five-year media and civil society strengthening program implemented by Internews in Tanzania and funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
By Leah Mushi, Senior Program Officer, Internews in Tanzania
(Banner photo: CG FM journalist Vivian Pyuza and program manager Najjat Omar hold the contract. Credit Internews)