Congratulations MCT for marking Silver Jubilee  

03Jul 2020
The Guardian
Congratulations MCT for marking Silver Jubilee  

​​​​​​​STAKEHOLDERS and officials of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) were on Tuesday on upbeat mood, looking at achievements of the council in the 25 years since it was launched. One area highlighted was increased compliance rates of arbitration decisions reached in its Ethics Committee-

-in particular. This level of influence in media practices is a record achievement, with 90 per cent rate of compliance indicated.

This datum was part of an appraisal to coincide with attaining 25 years since it was inaugurated on June 30, 1995. Compliance with council rulings is the very test of its ability to take on that role, as otherwise it would be an auxiliary institution helping with training those on the job, building editorial capacity and playing liaisons with external stakeholders. It has done vastly more than that, despite this being a vital sphere of its action.

Arbitration of complaints is a core function of media self-regulatory mechanisms, when one considers that among the beneficiaries of this pertinent service were cabinet ministers and other top functionaries. Regional and district commissioners and other officials have continued to seek MCT intervention when feeling wronged by the media, helping to cement solidarity, not rivalry. This helped to vastly cut down libel cases, fines, ruin in the media industry, as an improperly written story can spell the end of a media organ. Thus arbitration, self regulation is essential although in the few number of cases MCT failed to bring the contending parties to amicable agreement on the issues. MCT never expected it would be 100 per cent successful, in which case the 90per cent deserves big plaudits from all of us.

Arbitration cannot be done alone as if in a court of law or specialized tribunal but has accompanied other branches of MCT preoccupations. This effort was tied to spearheading the demand for good governance, via transparency, accountability in the context of independent and investigative journalism. Not only was MCT working with contending parties and institutions but took self regulation to newsrooms by giving expert support to media houses. They helped them to draft in-house self regulatory and peer oversight mechanisms such as style books, internal codes of conduct, and editorial policies.

When one reads or listens, watches various media outlets one shall be at pains to believe or imagine they are working from similar copybooks designed by the MCT, among other sources. They may indeed have different styles and levels of audacity but in the final analysis they have limits, they observe certain ethics which are scarcely ever visibly crossed. There are problems in that sphere as the media is part of society and thus participates in its yearnings and even misdirected expectations, but that is all.

MCT work is to channel such anxiety in an ethical, professional manner, with utmost good faith if each of us can indeed assure the public to be able to conduct himself or herself that way. At 25 years of MCT work, that is perhaps what we need to promise ourselves as a profession, so that the future is even better than the relatively humble beginnings, and rather ambitious regulatory yearnings in various sections. Without real intent to make the self-regulatory mechanism a success, a vacuum is created which administrators will be glad to fill, as they have usually done when they find the right excuses for the same. ()

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