Tanzania: Stop Financing TBC, Govt Told

Investment

An opposition legislator has urged the Government to stop subsidising state-owned media houses, which are operating as commercial firms, to allow fair competition with private companies.

The call was made yesterday in the National Assembly, as it emerged that the Government allocated Sh4 billion to the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) in the 2008/9 financial year. Chadema (Kigoma North) MP Zitto Kabwe said it was not fair to subsidise TBC while at the same time allowing it to run like a commercial company.

"The government must choose between subsidising TBC and leaving it to operate as a commercial entity," he said, while responding to the budget estimates for the Ministry of Information, Sports and Culture. "This current scenario has created an uneven playing field with private media organisations. It is discouraging to others."

Kabwe said the Ministry of Information, Sports and Culture had a role to promote the growth of the media industry in this country and not to discourage fair play. But Information Minister, Rtd Captain George Mkuchika requested parliament to approve the Sh21.165 billion-budget for his ministry. The minister said of the Sh9.929 billion that was meant for development, TBC would get Sh4 million.

However, Zitto argued that the amount was too much for a station that was operating like a private media house. He said TBC was competing for advertisements with private owned media houses and should not continue to benefit from public funds. "That money is from taxpayers, part of which is being paid by employees of private media houses. This approach has to change," he said.

The Citizen (Dar es Salaam) 29 July 2008