ZANZIBAR government has pledged to continue adopting various measures aimed at promoting a favorable environment for radio diversity to flourish.
Minister for Information, Tourism and Heritage, Mr Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, said on Thursday during the commemoration of World Radio Day held in Zanzibar that radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse.
The event organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in collaboration with Tanzania Development Information Organization (TADIO)- Community Media Network, brought together media stakeholders to discuss what diversity means in today’s media landscape.
He said duty bearers, including media regulators, can promote a favorable environment for radio diversity to flourish by means of different measures such as increasing licensing of radio operated by a variety of groups such as indigenous, native, minority people and measure progress of broadcasting organizations towards diversity.
Mr Kombo said the number of radios had continued to increase in Zanzibar from nine in 2010 to 25 to date, adding that his office had also continued to receive several applications for community radios.
“Radio is by far the most favoured medium for information delivery in Tanzania given its accessibility and cost effectiveness.
It is easy to operate and lies within the capacities of many local communities who are often left out by mainstream media and information channels,” he said.
He said radio can fairly and equally represent all men, women and children by creating and broadcasting targeted programmes by and for specific sectors of society while also reflecting the diversity of the population in mainstream programmes.
The minister, however, called upon radio practitioners to ensure that they adhere to media ethics in order to uphold peace and tranquility in the country.
For his part, Unesco Head of Office and Representative, Mr Tirso Dos Santos called on radio stations to uphold diversity both in their newsroom and on the airwaves.
He said radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs , viewpoints and content and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organisations and operations.
Mr Santos said for diversity representation, radio can integrate people from diverse groups in their editorial terms , including women, youth and minorities from different origins , people with disability , literates and illiterates and others.
“To manage diversity, radio stations can collect data and develop equal opportunity charters to promote diversity and inclusion in their workforce,” he said.
He pledged Unesco’s continued support to the government towards achieving the Sustainable development Goals by building knowledge societies to grassroots level- increasing access to information and amplifying the voices of those who would otherwise not be heard.
TADIO- Community Media Network Board Chairperson, Prosper Kwigize said that radios had played an important role in addressing various challenges in the society.
He said that in areas where radios have been utilised effectively, it had helped a lot in reducing poverty, fight crimes, corruption and increase accountability to civil servants.
Mr Kwizige called upon the government to work on various challenges facing the radio industry, such as lack of professionalism and technological changes.
World Radio Day is marked on February 13 every year to raise awareness about the importance of radio and strengthens communication among broadcasters and listeners. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Radio and Diversity’.