MBC claims it has stopped bias election reporting

The  public service broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting  Corporation (MBC) which runs two radio stations and a national television station says it has come to its senses and stopped bias reporting in the run up to May 20 elections which it has long been accused of.

Broadcaster’s authorities say this on Friday during the meeting with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials held the commission’s head offices in the commercial capital Blantyre.

In a statement released after the meeting which was a follow up to the similar meeting held on April 4, Chief Elections officer, Willie Kalonga says MBC authorities told the meeting that the broadcaster has Introduced two 10 minute daily campaign news programmes which are coming out at 18:20PM and 19:20PM on MBC 1 and one bulletin on MBC TV coming out at 20:20PM.

MBC boss Benson Tembo: Equal coverage
MBC boss Benson Tembo: Equal coverage

“MBC has also opened up to coverage of all presidential candidates in its 17 daily news bulletins. MBC has conducted internal trainings for its reporting and production cohorts to cover elections responsibly. MBC will also train its staff on how to cover polling and result management processes. MEC is expected to facilitate the training,” reads the statement in part.

Kalonaa says MBC also told the meeting that it has also made available free airtime for all presidential candidates for face to face engagement through the Sankha Wekha, On the Agenda and the 50:50 Campaign programmes and that politicians have been advised to use any of the MBC studios for production.

However, the state broadcaster said despite the changes it is still facing challenges which are impacting of its operations among the financial constraints and archaic studio equipment.

“The broadcaster has not received any funding for elections from the Treasury despite the Office of President and Cabinet authorizing release of K500 million for elections programming. The broadcaster is also facing shortage of transport which has failed the broadcaster to be responsive to political parties’ campaign activities, news requirements and to service stakeholders”.

In response Kalonga says MEC officials challenged MBC to live up to the people’s expectation by serving Malawians equally regardless of political affiliation.

MEC observed that there is still room for the broadcaster to improve its performance more especially on coverage of presidential functions.

“The Commission has purchased a television camera for the public broadcasters which will enable it cover more campaign and election issues” says Kalonga in a statement.

The Commission, Kalonga says, expects more improvements from the public broadcaster as the nation prepares for the elections on May 20.

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