Media service act, 2016 and the freedom of Media in Tanzania

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Kampala International University, College of Humanities and social Science
Media freedom is a crucial component of democracy, protecting fundamental human rights such as freedom of opinion and expression. While vibrant democracies in the world have articles that prohibit enacting laws against media freedom, many nations, particularly developing countries like Tanzania, have laws in place that restrict media operations, limiting freedom of expression and that of the press. This study investigates the impact of the Media Service Act, 2016, on media freedom in Tanzania, using qualitative research methods to gather insights from journalists, human rights activists, and politicians. The study employed thematic analysis to analyze the collected data. The study reveals a complex relationship between the Media Service Act and media freedom violations in Tanzania. Findings show that the Act has had a partial impact on editorial content so far, with varied opinions among respondents. Some believe the law had no effect, while others observed changes specifically in the investigative reporting and analysis of critical issues in media, and a third group saw positive effects on professionalism and ethics. Furthermore, the study found that self-censorship exists among Tanzanian journalists, partially influenced by the Act and other regulations, but denied by a few respondents who associate it with unprofessionalism. Moreover, government crackdowns on media and journalists have been observed to be partially caused by the Media Service Act, 2016. The study concludes that the Media Service Act is partly responsible for media freedom violations in Tanzania; while other laws and regulations have been found to be other factors together with actions of government and its agencies. Based on these findings, it is recommended that the Media Service Act, along with other restrictive laws, should be amended to protect media freedom as guaranteed in the Tanzanian Constitution.
A research report submitted to the college of humanities and social sciences in partial Fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the degree of masters of Arts in mass Communication of Kampala International University
Media service, Freedom, Media, Tanzania