Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah has assured that taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) will open up the airwaves to all parties during the 60-day official election campaign period for the July 2 fresh presidential elections.
The opposition accuses MBC – on both television and its two radio channels- of only covering campaign rallies of President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) while shunning rallies by political parties contesting in the elections, namely UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
But the MEC chairperson in a speech marking the launch of the campaign period said MBC will start giving airtime for pre-recorded campaign messages as well as 30-minute slots for interviews with each of the contesting presidential candidates.
Ansah said the Commission recognizes the role of the public broadcaster MBC, regarding levelling play field.
“MBC has promised to provide time slots for messages from all contesting candidates for free,” said Ansah.
She took cognizance of the important role played by the media during elections and implored that they should continue being neutral players.
“The Commission is also urging all private media houses to ensure that they support the campaign process through their unbiased and balanced coverage.
“The Commission wishes to commend some private media houses for the efforts that they are making in educating voters on elections and candidates.”
MBC and other media outlets signed a code of conduct through which they commit to provide ethical, balanced and impartial reporting.
But for MBC, being a public broadcaster funded by taxpayers, the expectation of opening the airwaves to all contesting players is imperative.
MBC boss Aubrey Sumbuleta is on record saying the broadcaster was working with MEC to ensure that all candidates are given an equal platform on MBC radio stations, television channel and online platform to publicise their manifestos for the electorate to make informed decisions
Despite being a national broadcaster, MBC has lost much of the audience because its credibility is damaged with bias reporting. Most people tune on to private media houses such as Zodiak and Timesboth radio and TV.
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