Namibia: NBC Defies Swapo Order

Namibian President Hage Geingob addressing the congress of the ruling Swapo party (file photo).

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation's spokesperson Umbi Karuaihe-Upi says the national broadcaster has editorial independence, and will not be dictated to.

This comes after the NBC defied Swapo instructions to rerun a story on Sunday after receiving a letter from Swapo's secretary for information and publicity, Hilma Nicanor, to repeat a particular clip with instructions on how to do it.

Yesterday, The Namibian reported that on Sunday, Nicanor ordered the NBC to rerun its coverage of the party's rally which took place at Walvis Bay in the Erongo region on Saturday, 'and use better footage'.

Nicanor argued that the NBC footage of that rally only showed a small section of the crowd, which she said was not a true reflection of the event.

Responding to this directive, Karuaihe-Upi yesterday told The Namibian that although they covered the event from different angles during Sunday's news bulletin at 20h00, it was not because of the request from the political party, but because there was not enough time to cover the entire event on Saturday.

"That decision was already made on Saturday after the reporter on site informed us that many important points were discussed at the rally, which we could not accommodate in the Saturday bulletin due to limited time," she explained. Karuaihe-Upi added that the reason why there was not enough time to cover the entire Swapo rally was because of the scheduled MTC Knockout Project which aired the same night.

"The Saturday news bulletin was only 26 minutes long because of the scheduled MTC knockout project on gender-based violence, which we relayed live," she stated.

She added that the news bulletins are usually 45 minutes long.

In response to the letter written by the political party to the broadcaster's director general, Stanley Similo, on Sunday, the NBC said that they still remain in control of their editorial powers.

"What is important though is that as a public broadcaster, we listen to feedback from our viewers and listeners, but the NBC retains its editorial control at all times," she stressed.

Nicanor said in her letter that because Swapo is a mass-based political movement which does not take kindly to being portrayed in such a manner, they directed the NBC to run a corrective story on the Sunday 20h00 news bulletin.

Swapo's order to NBC was criticised by some political commentators yesterday, who said the same privilege should also then be extended to other parties not satisfied with the coverage of their events in future.

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