The government of the United Republic of Tanzania owns the Tanzania Standard Newspapers Limited (TSN) and Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) in which it has 99% shares in TSN and 100% shares respectively while the Managing Editor holds the remaining 1% share in TSN.
TSN was formed on February 5, 1970 when the government nationalised the privately owned Tanganyika Standard Newspaper Limited.TSN publishes Daily and its Sunday edition Sunday News.
TBC is a merger between Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam (RTD) and Televisheni ya Taifa (TVT-national television) on July 1, 2004. Public radio broadcasting was started by the British colonial government on July 1, 1951 when it established radio station, Sauti ya Dar es Salaam. The station was renamed Tanzania Broadcasting Services (TBS) in 1955 when its reach became territorial. TBS was renamed Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation on July, 1956. The British colonial government used it to serve its colonial interests. The nationalist government that came to power after independence nationalised TBC on July 1, 1965 renamed it Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam.
Public service television was established in October 1999. After independence the government did not establish television because it believed television was expensive to establish and maintain and therefore will only be introduced as a tool of development and not as a status symbol. TVT was merged with RTD into TBS 2002 before it was renamed TBC in July 2007.
The government interest in ownership of media dates back to May 1961 when Tanzania mainland was granted Internal Self Government which prepared the administrative machinery ready for independence. One of the first decision of the government was to rename the colonial Public Relations Department into Tanganyika Information Services (TIS), now Tanzania Information Servic (TIS), popularly known as MAELEZO in Kiswahili. The newly established Tanganyika Information Service was placed directly under the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister Nyerere became incharge of the information sector. He also launched a monthl Kiswahili-language news magazine NCHI YETU (Our Country).
Between December 9, 1961 - when the country achieved independence - and February 5, 1967 - when TANU launched the Arusha Declaration, the blue-print for the country’s policy of socialism and self-reliance - the government had no clear cut media policy beside using media to reinform nation-building. Three areas of nation-building that the government expected to make a positive contribution were national integration, socio-economic development and, cultural preservation and promotion.
After the adoption of the Arusha Declaration, the government impact on media became pervasively influenced through the party that put it in power, TANU. The government in collaboration with TANU took different measures to ensure that media were totally committed to its course. Such measures included, among others, organising series of seminars for media personnel where they were lectured on role of media in building socialism and naition-building, and socialisation of the media personnel from TANU/CCM media and government owned media who had to attend three and nine month ideological courses at the party’s ideological colleges. During these courses the personnel were highly socialised with the party’s ideology and philosophy that they developed a sixth sense of what should or should not be published, resulting in a high degree of self-censorship
The government reinforced these party incluenced measures by passing laws that were unfriendly to efficient and effective media practice. Such laws included, among others, National Security Act 1970, Prison Act 1967,Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service Act 1996, Film and Stage Play act 1976 and Newspaper Act 1976 which was repealed in 2016
Economic and polical reforms that Tanzania initiated in the early 1992, and thereafter media deregulation called for a different media landscape in Tanzania that ensured more liberalised regulations on media control by the government. Private media were allowed and both private and public media enjoyed more press freedom than during the one party system.
However, since 2015 this freedom has been curtailed by the enacted of very unfriendly laws to media practice in the country. These laws include, among others, Cybercrime Act 2015,Statistics Act 2015, Access to Information Act 2015 and Media Service Act 2016.
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