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Govt to strengthen press freedom

Govt to strengthen press freedom

THE government has promised to continue widening the scope of press freedom in the country, pledging to bring to Parliament the Information Services Bill for review.

Winding up the debate on the budget estimates for the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology, Minister Nape Nnauye said the government is determined to ensure media practitioners perform their duties in a free and secure environment.

"The ministry supervises Digital Tanzania Project (DTP), including strengthening press freedom in the country," the minister said as he tabled his ministry's 2022/2023 financial budget estimates.

Illustrating how the government embraces press freedom in the country, Nape said the government has issued a total of 19 new licences to newspapers, bringing the total number of registered newspapers to 284.

He said the government has also lifted the ban imposed on four newspapers- Mseto, Mawio, Tanzania Daima and Mwanahalisi -after which the publishers of the four newspapers were given licences to continue operating.

"The decision to lift the ban was reached due to various reasons, including expanding the scope of press freedom in the country," said the minister.

The minister said radio stations have increased from 200 in 2021 to 210 stations in April 2022, equivalent to 5 per cent increase, while television stations increased from 50 in 2021 to 56 in April 2022, an increase of 12 per cent.

Cable television increased from 40 in April 2021 to 59 in April 2022, equivalent to 47.5 per cent increase.

Newspapers increased from 272 in April 2021 to 284 in April 2022, equivalent to 4.4 per cent increase.

According to the minister, the government has continued to create favourable environment for broadcasting technologies to flourish, a situation that has attracted the mushrooming of online radio and televisions, creating employment for youths.

The minister said until April 2022, online televisions increased to 663 from 552 in April 2021, an increase of 20.1 per cent while blogs increased from 134 to 148 in the same period, equivalent to 10.4 per cent increase.

Online radios increased from 25 in April 2021 to 27 in April 2022, an increase of 8 per cent.

 Speaking on Tanzania Information Services, the minister said the Department will continue gathering information that seeks to inform the public on implementation of its policies, strategic plans, projects and programmes. 

The Department will, in the financial year, form an Accreditation board, media council and a special fund for financing training to journalists.

Other duties to be carried out by the Department include reviewing of the National Information and Broadcasting Policy, 2003, reviewing some sections of the Information Services Act, 2016 and its Regulations of 2017.

The Department will also print 12, 794 copies of the picture of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania and another 12,794 copies of Mwalimu Nyerere. 

A total of 4,000 copies of Nchi Yetu magazine will also be prepared by the Department.

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Author: RODGERS LUHWAGO in Dodoma

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