9 October 1998


Public Broadcaster drops Press Review radio programme; human rights organisation claims political interference

Incident details


(MISA/IFEX) - The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has dumped its
popular daily morning Press Review programme for the second time in eight
months. The programme, broadcast every weekday morning after the 7 a.m.
newscast, reviewed the major stories from the various daily newspapers in
Namibia. According to sources quoted in the "Namibian" newspaper, the
chances of the programme being brought back again this time are next to

The programme was first cancelled in February 1998 after management felt
that it was merely broadcasting "libelous and malicious" stories that the
NBC had already discarded. The state broadcaster claimed at the time that it
had faced libel suits as a result of broadcasting stories carried by the
newspapers. However, it failed to back up these claims with facts.

According to the "Namibian" newspaper of 7 October, NBC Director General Ben
Mulongeni advanced different reasons for axing the programme this time
around. Mulongeni told the newspaper that the decision to remove the
programme was taken to make way for an extended morning news broadcast. He
said a decision had been taken some time ago to increase the local news
content in its bulletins and had started by extending the 7 a.m. news
bulletin by an extra five minutes. Asked why the NBC could not accommodate
the Press Review programme in a different time slot, Mulongeni said there
was "no time for it anywhere."

Meanwhile, on 8 October, the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) in
Namibia criticised the NBC's decision to drop the Press Review programme,
claiming that the decision was "purely political." The NSHR told the
"Namibian" newspaper that it was deeply concerned by the apparent political
manipulation and misuse of the NBC for the sake of a few top government
officials who were bent on safeguarding their personal interests. The NSHR
maintained that the decision to drop the programme was aimed at
"misinforming a generally gullible population bloc or silencing growing
disapproval and criticism by civil society as well as stifling public debate
on controversial issues such as the third term for President Sam Nujoma and
Namibia's hostile military involvement in the region as these issues enjoy
prominent coverage by the print media."

Mulongeni, however, in his interview with the "Namibian", denied speculation
that the programme had been dropped to prevent broadcasting of reports
critical of Government and to stifle debate on issues perceived as


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