Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Stop Running Business Adverts, TBC Told

THE Parliamentary Public Organizations' Accounts Committee (POAC) has suggested that the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) should stop running commercial adverts since they "choke off" private broadcasters.

And instead of depending solely on subsidies from the government to run TBC, the public broadcaster ought to raise funds through its subsidiary, StarTimes Tanzania. "We recommend that you deduct 1,000/- from every decoder that is sold by StarTimes and the same amount from monthly subscriptions by customers.

"This money should be enough to run the corporation. It is also high time that you created another exclusive channel to broadcast activities in the National Assembly when it is in session," Chairman of POAC, Mr Zitto Kabwe (Kigoma North-Chadema), told the management of TBC in Dar es Salaam on Thursday.

The move is aimed at getting the public broadcaster out of business to concentrate on informing, educating and entertaining the public in the same footing as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), among other public broadcasters in the world.Mr Zitto also directed that over US 400,000 that TBC had paid to the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) for acquiring a licence of digital broadcasting is turned into equity in its partnership with the StarTimes.

StarTimes is the first digital broadcasting company in Tanzania formed in partnership between TBC and China's StarMedia. Members of the parliamentary committee were yesterday shocked to learn that while TBC was made to pay the huge sum of money for the licence, its partner StarTimes had been exempted by the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC).

"This is unacceptable. The money should now be turned into equity and this would make up the paid share capital of StarTimes," the outspoken opposition lawmaker said.The partnership contract between StarMedia and TBC has on various occasions come under fire from the parliamentary committee with MPs attacking the agreement for allegedly favouring the Chinese investor.

It was on this backdrop that the parliamentary committee had to summon managements of TBC, TIC and TCRA in a bid to clear the air on various issues regarding the pact between the two companies.Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee has directed the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) to retain all funds paid by firms exploring for oil and natural gas for training purposes.

It came to light that the petroleum corporation gets about US 3 million dollars (approximately 4.5bn/-), half of which is taken by the minister.The monies are supposed to be used to train young Tanzanians in the field of petroleum and natural gas so that the locals can see the role of managing such resources.

In another development, the Managing Director of TPDC, Mr Yona Kilagane, allayed fears among residents of Mtwara and Lindi that they will not benefit from the natural gas produced there since most of it will be transported to Dar es Salaam.The TPDC boss explained that only 16 per cent of the natural gas will be transported to the city, noting also that there will also be processing plants and other industries in the southern regions.

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