Namibia: NBC Ban on phone-in shows Triggers Firestorm of Criticism


A recent decision by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to impose a blanket ban on all radio phone-in programmes for the Silozi Service at Katima Mulilo has precipitated a firestorm of criticism from its listeners in the Caprivi Region who feel cut out.

NBC's Director-General Albertus Auchamub reportedly imposed the ban on the call-in programmes: 'Busile', 'Maikuto', 'Lizibiso' and 'Kakwachi' after some unknown callers verbally abused and "insulted" NBC presenters for no apparent reason.

The NBC has opened a case with the police and investigators are sifting through MTC data to try and ascertain the identities of the callous callers who could soon face the music.

Callers are now being advised to put in writing their messages and announcements and they will not be allowed to phone-in until further notice. Many of the rural population in the Caprivi Region, like thousands of other Namibians, depend on radio as their main medium of communication.

"We were having greeting(s) and announcement programmes as well as youth quiz. Some people started calling in the programmes and insulted producers live on air. I am a regular caller. I used to participate in this youth quiz. We used to win recharge vouchers but now we can not because the programme is closed," said a disgruntled Richard Mubuyaeta. Mubuyaeta, from Lisiki village, in the Kabbe Constituency, added: "This region will never develop with people doing such things."

He explained that the phone-in programme used to help neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Botswana because they too could call in and make announcements about missing cattle.

"Now people have to travel long distances even over 100 kilometres to come to NBC and give their messages. Sending SMSes is difficult. Not everyone can do it and some don't have cellphones. We will never develop here because of certain individuals," he fumed.

In addition, Mubuyaeta, said he agrees with the DG's decision so that people learn not to misbehave and abuse a radio programme that is intended for discussions of progressive issues. "People must not insult producers if they want to benefit from the radio services.

Now even children's programmes are gone. They have deprived the young ones and I always walk with my radio for programmes but now it is just music," he said.

Angelika Tubazumbe and her husband, Erick Kasenge are also disappointed with the manner in which some individuals insult radio producers on air.

"I am very disappointed. It was our means of communication for our announcements and entertainment. This brings the region down. Our neighbours (Zambia and Botswana) are also very disappointed. They must bring the culprits to book. The programme used to help our children to greet others and now they are asking us what happened to the programme," she said while waiting at the Katima Mulilo Open Market for a hike to Sifuha in the Kabbe Constituency. Sitali Masule, also a regular young listener from Isize Village, does not take kindly to the development.

"I am very disappointed in the people who are busy insulting producers on air. Now what happens to our elders who can't write letters, worse an SMS? Our elders were used to the call-in the programme for announcements especially deaths. For many years, this is what they would do, now they cannot call," she remarked.

Locals in the region are demanding that the Namibian police, MTC, Telecom and leo pursue the culprits so that they face the full wrath of the law. It is not clear for how long the ban would last.