MBC vows to stop rebroadcasting JB’s campaign rallies

The public service broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has promised to stop rebroadcasting presidential rallies where the President was campaigning.

The commitment is among several changes and reforms which MBC has made in response to the accusation of its unfair coverage of contesting political parties in the 20 May elections.

Several stakeholders in the electoral process has recently complained to Malawi Electoral Commission  (MEC) that   MBC has been giving prominence to the ruling People’s party while at the same time marginalizing the opposition political parties.

Tembo: Equal coverage
Tembo: Equal coverage

In response to the complaints MEC officials  led by its  chairperson Maxon Mbendera  held a meeting with the MBC board members on Friday  during which MBC board members conceded that the national broadcaster has indeed not complied with the provisions of its broadcasting license, the Communications Act and the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act of ensuring equitable access to the political parties.

In a statement issued Saturday, MEC said it unreservedly condemned the unprofessional conduct of MBC over the two weeks of the campaign and demanded radical changes that would lead to equitable coverage of all contesting political parties.

“In response the MBC board committed to undertake immediate changes and reforms which shall include but not limited to:  Giving a right to reply on all stories and campaign messages broadcast on radio and television. Stop rebroadcasting presidential rallies where the President was campaigning and giving equal airtime for political parties to campaign where the State President has been covered live campaigning,” reads the statement in part.

The statement further says MBC board assured the Commission of immediate structural changes in its coverage of political parties and challenged MEC, political parties, civil society organisations, electoral stakeholders and the public to observe its performance for seven days effective Friday, April 4.

“The Commission is, therefore, urging everyone who may have a complaint against MBC in the period up to Friday, April 18, 2014 to immediately lodge it with the Commission,” concludes the statement.

MBC team which was composed of the broadcaster’s board chairperson Evance Namanja, other board members and director general Benson Tembo, committed itself to improve its coverage of political parties, adding some members on the MBC side claimed that the public broadcaster was already covering opposition political parties.

Most stakeholders, especially opposition parties, have called on MBC to open up to all political parties.

The Communications Act and the broadcasting licence that the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) issued to MBC require the public broadcaster to provide equal coverage to all the political parties during the campaign period.

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