Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) yesterday suspended operations of two religious radio stations—Imani FM and Kwa Neema FM for six months for airing programmes, which the agency said, might breach peace.
The communication watchdog also banned a segment of Clouds’ FM radio programme dubbed ‘Jicho la Ng’ombe’ normally aired the station’s morning programme known as ‘Power Breakfast’.
Besides, the agency ordered all three radio stations to pay a fine of 5m/- within one month period over claims of provoking the breach of peace.
The regulatory authority, also took the opportunity to issue serious warnings to presenters who would go against the laws and regulations of broadcasting.
Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, TCRA Content Committee deputy chairman Walter Bgoya said both Kwa Neema FM and Imani FM have been directed to commit themselves in writing that they will not repeat the mistakes.
He also cautioned that the regulators will not hesitate to revoke licenses of any radio station that will repeat the mistakes and commitments that they will submit in writing.
“We are warning all the three radio stations to ensure that their presenters do not use words which may provoke breach of peace while presenting because their licenses will be revoked for the benefit of the public,” he repeated.
Explaining reasons for suspending operations of Imani FM radio based in Morogoro Municipality, Bgoya said during the national population and housing census last year, it aired programmes meant to persuade Muslims not to take part in the national census.
He said this was contrary to the laws governing content of programmes.
As for Kwa Neema FM radio based in Mwanza City, he explained that it aired programmes aimed at encouraging Christians not to eat meat slaughtered by Muslims.
‘Jicho la Ng’ombe’ segment featured in Power Breakfast programme was banned because it supported homosexual marriages while knowing that there is no law supporting the practices in Tanzania, the chairman said.
Aired by Clouds FM, ‘Jicho la Ng’ombe segment’ sensitised Tanzanians to copy the US during their presidential elections last year whereby one of the priests was given a chance to pray, and he prayed for all people including homosexuals.
TCRA warned Clouds FM’s management from establishing a similar segment in the programme saying by doing so they will be breaking the law and that stringent measures would be taken against them.
TCRA said every radio station was given a chance to defend itself but the content committee was not satisfied with their defense grounds and decided to punish them as per regulations.
For his part, Director for Radio Imani FM, Ali Ali Ajirani said he had received the directive from the regulator and he would deliver the message to the radio station’s top management. He said he would also inform the public of TCRA’s decision.
TCRA, which started operations on November 1, 2003, is the statutory regulatory body responsible for regulating communications and broadcasting sectors in the country as per the establishing Act No. 12 of 2003.
Recently there has been tension among Muslims and Christians following a dispute over who had the right to slaughter animals for consumption by members of the public.
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda had to fly to Geita Region where he met Christians and Muslim leaders with a view to finding a lasting solution to the dispute.
Last year during the national population and housing census some Muslim believers refused be counted leading some of them to be arrested for allegedly boycotting and attempting to sabotage the exercise.