MBC phase out Bingu liked TV programmes

Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has thrown two prominent television programs include annual awards that late President Bingu wa Mutharika used to like most out of its television despite having infinite effect, Nyasa Times has established.

The public broadcaster has chopped off ‘Reach Out and Touch’ as well as ‘Mbiri’ programs after noting that they were most liked by late Mutharika. It has also put on shelf the annual special awards, ‘Our People Our Pride.’

Following the chop, MBC relocated the programs’ producers and presenters in a move that clearly manifest a foul-play of internal politics. The relocated include Timpuza Mwansambo who has been posted to MBC offices in northern region.

‘Reach Out and Touch’ was a program that focused on mobilizing support for vulnerable and destitute individuals across the nation while ‘Mbiri’ was a geo-historical program which highlighted historical and geographical features/events which is an advantage to the country’s undervalued tourism sector.

Phased out: Our People, Our Pride

However, the broadcaster’s Public Relations Officer, Ruth Gama dismissed the reports, arguing the institution is reviewing some of its programs in terms of MBC’s chore functions.

Gama said despite ‘Mbiri’ not aired since April after Bingu’s death, the program has been rescheduled from prime to normal time.

“We confirm that Mbiri has not been removed from air but was only rescheduled from prime to normal time to targeting its viewership audience. Reach Out and Touch is one of the programs MBC is reviewing in terms of MBC’s chore functions and MBC intends to remodel the program towards more a facilitative approach that the hands on approach of a charity organization,” Gama explained.

Gama said MBC as any broadcaster conducts “annual schedule review” when some programs are shed off, others repackaged and new one make their debut.

On relocation of some of its key staff, Gama said: “Internal MBC staff movements are done for the optimum utilization of human resources for the progressive good of MBC and increasing satisfaction through output for the public we serve. Staff movements when due and necessary are the prerogative of particular line managers towards delivery of goals.”

On ‘Our People Our Pride’, Gama said the awards were not scrapped off from MBC’s plans although will not take place this year.

But sources within MBC-TV disclosed that the two programs, Reach Out and Touch, Mbiri and Our People Our Pride were scrapped off following their connection to Mutharika.

“They were most liked programs by Bingu and the TVs guys could not dare to postpone such programs by any means because of Bingu’s involvement. This is why some of its producers and presenters were reallocated just after his death because they were looked as DPP ‘boys’,” explained one of the employees at MBC.

In an interview with Minister Information, Moses Kunkuyu said his ministry does not meddle with operations of MBC and that as public broadcaster; the institution bides by the provisions of Communications Act.

“MBC is public institution which operates under Communications Act and there is no way we would allow it to meddle in politics. If there is any change of programs, that might be done based on the analysis the institution made in terms of the marketability and viewership of the said programs,” Kunkuyu said.

Mbiri program was initiated by Mang’anja Association and was presented by Timpuza Mwansambo and the association’s chairperson, Puleni Chilikumnzako.

When contacted, Chilikumnzako said his effort to have the program back on television has failed despite promises from MBC-TV officials that it will resume any time soon.

“I have been trying to resurface the program but each time I contacted the MBC people am told they will contact me, but they don’t. I was called for a meeting some months ago where I was assured Mbiri will go back on air soon but since then nothing has materialized,” lamented historian, Chilikumnzako.

Chilikumnzako said he is currently searching for sponsorship to revamp the program, which was essential in bridging the geography and history gaps in the academic syllabus implemented in the country’s education institutions.

“The program is most liked and people have been asking why it had stopped. I am appealing to well wishers and organizations to assist with financial support so that we are able to bring it back. Mbiri is a nice program that can contribute a lot to the country’s education and tourism sector since it highlights some geo-historical features/places that can attract tourists,” he explained.

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