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An assessment of electronic media laws in enhancing media operation services in Tanzania : A study of three selected media laws.


The Author

·         Robin Ulikaye, a Mass Communication student at Saint Augustine University of Tanzania.

·         Department of Mass Communication

·         Email:

Received ______________________

Accepted for publication __________________

Published _____________________




The study sought to explore the influence of Media Laws in enhancing Tanzania's media and communication services. The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) was chosen since through which its governing Laws and Regulations were analyzed. This topic was chosen since there are few scholarly articles and books that discuss the role of media laws in advancing media and communication services in the country. The research was guided by three research objectives which are to identify Laws used by Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority in regulating the communications sector in Tanzania; to examine enforcement of selected media legislations; and to assess impact of selected laws and regulations on media and the broader communication sector in Tanzania. In this study, both qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed. The research was conducted in Tanzania's Dar es Salaam and Mbeya regions. The study included a sample size of 80 participants, including members of the TCRA and Press Clubs as well as journalists.

Key words: Media services, Media legislations, Communication laws, Media operation, social media journalism, Print media.


The rapid introduction of mass media in Tanganyika was witnessed for the first time during the German colonial period when the print media were used to spread Christianity to natives. In line with defending the colonial masters, media laws during colonial era in all of Africa had a goal to force the media both those that were owned by colonists or indigenous to disseminate contents that would realize maximized productivity potential from the respective colonies and pervasive media outlets were strictly penalized. The power of the opposition media alarmed the government, which sought to control the newspapers by initiating prosecution for seditious libels and proposing or passing restrictive press laws (Omu, 1968).

The print media which were popular were used in political and administration purposes to communicate news, orders, and rules from colonial administration to civilians. The colonial press laws facilitated attainment of communication goals during this time under review. The colonial press laws and the press worked to enhance the welfare of the ruling elite; in research from Trimble (2018), the media laws during colonial era in colonial Tanganyika worked in tandem with the colonial masters’ objectives and had less to do with affairs of the ruled.

Most of the magazines and newspapers were owned by colonial administration and religious institutions, few of them were under private ownership where they were excessively restricted by colonial administration (McGarry, Richard, 1994). As a matter of facts, the prevalent media laws worked in favor of colonists who were the publishers and owners of almost all media outlets and contents.

It is from this perspective that we realize that the laws and publications of the media were aimed at carrying the colonists' colonization agenda rather than the interests and wishes of the natives; moreover, there have been claims by several social political analysts that, after independence, the media laws fell short of good reputation as tool for promoting and enhancing communication services, Boresha Habari, (2019) reported that Tanzania has among the highest number of media outlets in the region, but most are small, under-resourced outlets that wrangle with prevalent restrictive media laws.

Between 1961 to 1964, the media were left free to celebrate and enjoy independence, but later the government stated to amend media related statutes and to enact other new legislations such as the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act which prohibited investigative journalism and reporting of public leaders’ properties and assets through mass media. The earliest of 1967 during Ujamaa na Kujitegemea (Socialism and self-reliance), the government was in need of support from mass media hence all media were impliedly given duty to disseminate socialism related agendas and policies.

The print media and journalists saw the intention of the government hence they censored themselves from criticism because criticism was not tolerated (Kaplan 1978, p. 118). Self-censorship and fear to criticize government cemented by his own words, Mwalimu Nyerere during preparation of party congress by saying that,

“Freedom of opinion should be subordinated to more important political goals, e.g., the abolishment of disease, poverty, and ignorance”.

Hence, the print media were given a warning of not being tolerated when criticizing government over matters related to disease, poverty and ignorance. The government wanted all people to participate together to find answers and solution to the matters with public interests and not to fight each other or fighting against the government.

During 1970, due to attempted coup de ’tat in several African countries such as Uganda and Malawi, the government of Tanzania came up with another legislation which intended to guarantee the national security. The National Security Act of 1970 came as a surprise and it harmed media and created fear to investigative journalists and print media. The legislation came with provisions which made it offence to investigate, obtain, possess, comment on, pass on or publish any document or information which the government considers to be classified. This includes documents or information relating to any public authority, company, organization or entity which is in any way co-joined with the government, including the ruling party. The provisions went further to threat the public officers or employees who may be source of leak of government secrets to face prosecution together with any person who receives and disseminate classified information knowing or unknowingly that the information is classified. The punishment was imprisonment without fine up to twenty years and in addition, any person who accessed or suspected to have accessed and collected data from protected places, be charged with espionage and sabotage.

During 1976, the government amended The Newspapers Act which its history can be traced back from German colonial period. The statute was amended to introduce more harsh provisions which not only prohibited production and publication of newspapers without registration but the minister of information and registrar of newspapers were given authoritarian powers to shutdown newspapers without giving right of being heard to the condemned party. The law gave police officers powers to seize and confiscate all publications which they think they are against the law. The other minor mistakes were turned to serious offences under this Act for instance, submission of false documents intentional or unintentional during registration process was punished up to four years imprisonment or payment of fine or both. The alternative to imprisonment on submission of false documents or information would have been rejection of registration application, imprisonment was too much.

The Act criminalized defamation which falls under tort and likely to be dealt under civil claims, the statute established several other criminal offences such us sedition, incitement, and publication of false news which are media offences which may be punished under media etiquettes and professional conducts not as criminal offences. The Newspapers Act was used several times by government to shutdown publications of print media which were against government requirements. Some actual examples include the suspension of Mwanahalisi Newspaper on 13th October 2008 and Kulikoni on the 13th October of 2009 for 90 days and deregistration of Leo Tena. The law continued on force until it was replaced by Media Service Act of 2016.

The establishment of Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) under section 4 of Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority Act, no 12 of 2003, turned Media Council and other media related boards toothless as TCRA took all regulatory powers to itself. TCRA is imposed powers under section 6 to issue, renew and cancel licenses, to establish standards for regulated services and goods, to establish terms and conditions for regulated goods and services, to regulate rates and charges, to make rules for the proper implementation of the TCRAA, to monitor the performance of regulated services, to handle complaints and disputes resolutions, to provide knowledge about communications to the citizens and to handle all other activities concerning media in accordance with international laws. In addition, TCRA is imposed all powers which were originally exercised by the Tanzania Communications Commission and Tanzania Broadcasting Commission.

One can simply say, all duties which were imposed to MCT and other media related boards were taken shortly after establishment of TCRA. The media council which was entitled to handle media related complaints was incapacitated by the establishment of the content committee of TCRA. The total control of mass communication is under government through TCRA which is against the recommendations made in Nyalalis’ Commission Report which recommended media to be free of government control for the sake of freedom of expression. The report recommended establishment of Media Council which will be under the control of journalists themselves and not government, the recommendations were accepted and led to the establishment of the council, but later the government started to take again the control of media by establishment rules and principles which subordinated MCT and later the establishment of TCRA came to put entire control of media under government.

Due to the development of science and technology, the introduction of new medium for communication and dissemination of information through electronic media, the government saw a loop that could have bring effects to the society. Now the media which were operating as print media and radio and television broadcasting, had new media to disseminate information through electronic prints and online radios and television. The problem of unprofessional journalism arose due to the ease of ways of collecting and disseminating information. The government started to put effort to control the rapid development of technology which was coming with a lot of problems such as breach of privacy, copyright, abusive language, pornographies etc. The government for the first time enacted The Electronic and Postal Communications Act of 2010 to control electronic communications.

The Act came with a lot rules and regulations governing electronic communications which required registration of some online activities of disseminating news or information. The EPOCA (online content) Regulation enacted to control the journalism through social media and other online platforms. The enacted regulation required all online media to be registered and licensed to perform media activities and it imposed requirements for registration and punishment in default. A lot of media which were operating ceased to operate after the coming of these rules and regulations and a lot of criticisms were made against the legislation. That was not enough, the government enacted the Media Service Act of 2016 which made it an offence operating without being licensed. The Media Service Act established journalist’s accreditation board which was given power, after an application by applicants, to accredit journalist so as they can perform journalism.

The accreditation of journalists was considered by commentators and journalists as a tool to silence journalists who were against government and to allow only journalists who support government. The accreditation as per the statute is either permanent or temporary accreditation, the temporary accreditation was criticized by journalists by being a threat to freedom of expression, there is no way a journalist can perform his functions freely if he is given temporary accreditation, they must be fear of annoying government hence the journalists and media act in a way that they avoid conflicts with government. The media legislations came with a lot of repercussions and murmuring from within the mass media fraternity and the journalistic community. Those who work in the media and those who have a stake in it have a number of grievances, one of which being that the majority of the laws that have been established, including their restrictions, are oppressive and harsh.

Nape Nnauye, the Minister responsible for Information, Communications, and ICT, has committed to do a review of the laws that are being complained about in 2022. A number of different human rights organizations have made it publicly known that they believe the legislations, rules, and regulations come to contradict the constitution, particularly the freedom to information, and that they deny civilians the access to knowledge.

The civic fraternity complains that the government has no intention of modifying those laws based on the opinion of stakeholders; as a result, many other institutions and media houses are unwilling to embrace similar legislations. In the end, despite the fact that they did not have a choice, they were compelled to accept them nonetheless (MCT, 2022). The Media Council, for example, is upset about the fact that the Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations Act, which was passed in March 2018 and went into effect in April of same year, established a license charge for all online content providers, including bloggers; the organization believes that this creates significant barriers for potential new mass media market players but it also drove existing outlets out of business. A large number of blogs and online forums have closed, as they could not meet the requirements of the regulation and pay their fees.

Basing on the above historical background of media legislations, this paper is going to conduct an analysis on the role of communication laws in enhancing media and communication services in Tanzania. This paper is going to check if the current media legislations enhance or hinders media services and to suggest solution to those problems.

This paper is made up of five parts to say introduction, methodology, findings, discussion, and conclusion.



The purpose of this study shall be to explore role of media laws in enhancing media and communication services in Tanzania. The methods and research procedures used in data collection, data presentation, and data analysis are discussed in this part. It encompasses research design, research approach, research site, sampling techniques, targeted study population, data collection instruments, data analysis and presentation techniques and ethical considerations.

Research design

Research design is a detailed plan that indicates all steps on how the scientific inquiry into the research problem will be conducted (Silverman, 2001). Research design depends on nature of the study and its objectives (Kothari, 2004). This study used descriptive survey design. Descriptive survey is a method of collecting information by interviewing or administering a questionnaire to a sample of individuals (Orodho, 2003). This design shall be chosen because, in study from Silverman, (2001) it is effective at interpreting conditions, practices, beliefs, views, perceptions, and effects that exist in the real world. More so, Creswell (2009) accented that, this design suit both qualitative and quantitative research.

The researcher reviewed a number of literatures and reports or researches on media laws including books, journal articles, print or electronic media, newspapers, and web sources so as to be acquainted with the historical background and changes on media laws since colonial period until now. Through literatures which are important in every research (Cottrell and McKenzie, 2011), the researcher was able to formulate questions which later will be used in collecting views of the majority concerning media laws. Likewise, through literatures, the researcher was able to understand the gap between researchers who already conducted research on the same topic so as to avoid duplication and mistakes that were done by former researchers.

Research Approach for Data Analysis

The qualitative research approach shall be chosen because it is best for studying people's thoughts, feelings, opinions, and attitudes, as well as understanding their behaviors, as suggested by literature from (Patton, 2002). This is a descriptive research method that aims to describe and analyses the culture and behavior of humans and their groups from the perspective of those being studied. In research literature from Kombo and Tromp (2006), qualitative research takes place in a natural setting, such as a classroom, rather than an artificial setting, such as a newsroom.

The quantitative research approach will also be used because it is based on verifiability principles. This includes things like confirmation, proof, corroboration, and substantiation, so knowledge is derived from what can be proven through direct observation. Kombo and Tromp (2006) emphasize objectivity, so the researcher's values, interpretations, and personal feelings will not be considered in the quantitative approach.

Research Site

In research from Orodho and Kombo (2002), selecting a research site is critical and important. It has an impact on the usefulness of the data generated. This research shall be conducted in Tanzania Dar es salaam and Mbeya regions. Dar es salaam and Mbeya were chosen specifically because most practitioners of journalism and media stakeholders resides in the two regions; otherwise, all regions would have an equal chance of being studied. Dar es salaam was a first region to be considered as area of this study because most of the media houses are situated in Dar es salaam, likewise, most of journalists and participants who have good knowledge concerning media operations resides in Dar es salaam. This study also needed comments and opinions from legal practitioners who are well acquainted with legal matters and are able to test the validity and applicability of media legislations and its weakness, most of law firms and offices are located in Dar es salaam (Nyongesa 2022).

Other stakeholders such as Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) are situated in Dar es salaam hence it is inevitable to designate Dar es salaam. Mbeya is a second region chosen as area of this study because a researcher wanted to gather views or opinions concerning media laws from other part of the country so as to have mixed opinions which are useful in generating findings.

Target Population

Bryman (2004) defines a population as "an entire cohort of subjects in which a researcher is interested". A researcher selects a sample to represent the entire population in the population. Journalists, Newsroom editors, TV and Radio Programme Producers, License and Legal Officers at TCRA, Enforcement Officers at TCRA and media stakeholders at Mbeya Press Club were the subjects of this study. A total of 80 respondents will be consulted and provided with questionnaires, discussion and engaged for a one-to-one interview. A total of six media related laws and regulations shall be analyzed.

The desirable population will be from two Districts to say Kinondoni District and Ilala District because most of media houses and journalists are situated in these two districts. The target population must be within or closely connected to the sector in which a researcher is investigating so as to acquire first-hand information from people with experience on area of research (Wimmer and Dominick, 2006).

Sample size

Best and Khan (2003) report that a sample is a subset of the population from which the researcher wants to gather data and draw conclusions. This study used a sample size of 5% of the total population because Boyd and his colleagues believe that a sample size of 5% is sufficient to represent the population (Boyd-et al., 2006). The size is very crucial to the usefulness of the data that will be collected, selecting too small sample lead to unreliable/unrealistic results while too large sample demand a good deal of time and resources but produce very good and realistic results. Take an example, a teacher asks a question to a class of 100 students and 80 students equal to 80% of them give an answer to the asked question, it is likely that, a teacher will be in position to understand the actual level of understanding of the entire class basing on the answers of 80 students. It will be very difficult to measure the level of understanding of an entire class by choosing only 3 students to represent a group of remaining 97 students.

The study employed the sample size of 80 respondents including TCRA and MCT staffs, the staffs and journalists from several media houses will be consulted. Citizens who have a good knowledge on operation of media services will be interviewed and their comments will be collected. The size of 80 respondents is enough to a researcher to gather almost all necessary data in support of this researcher paper. Most of the majority in the sample size are from the two most preferred research area to say, Dar es salaam (Ilala and Kinondoni Districts) and Mbeya (Mbeya CBD), the participants freely participated without unnecessary disturbance.

Sampling Techniques

Sampling techniques are procedures which are used in the selection of a subset from the larger set (group) called a population with elements required by the study. This study employed both purposive and random sampling techniques to obtain participants. The method of purposive sampling is always used for the aim of obtaining the participants or respondents with actual information concerning the research problem while random sampling techniques is based on the fact that every member of a population has an equal chance of being selected and participants are selected randomly (Kombo and Tromp, 2006). Purposive sampling technique shall be used to obtain the Director of Legal Services at TCRA, the journalists and producers, and media stakeholders. Stratified random technique was used in selection of other media stakeholders with regard to gender and groups that are impacted in one way or the other with media laws.

Apart from TCRA, media houses are most important stakeholders who live the media services legislations and they cannot be left out this research. A researcher selected and consulted a number of media stations operating in Tanzania such as Sahara Media Group (Star Tv and RFA), Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), Africa Media Group (AMG), IPP Media (ITV and Radio One), Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL), Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN), Business Times Limited (BTL), New Habari Corporation, Clouds Entertainment, Uhuru Publications and Global Publishers. Due to limited resources and time, a researcher chose few from hundreds of journalists from all the above media houses and managed to acquire reasonable data within reasonable time as planned. The researcher partly employed multistage cluster sampling to ensure each group between the print media, simulcasting and electronic media are represented to ensure each unit in media services has been given chance to participate in making comments. Multistage cluster sampling guarantees collection of generalized information from the sample size.

Data Collection Methods

This section shows how data were obtained from the respondents, this section is divided into the primary and secondary data source. This study shall collect data by deploying the following methods:


A survey method is a tool or technique that is used to collect information in research by asking questions to the respondents. Survey is simply an exchange of information between research participants and a researcher or an organization conducting research. In collecting statistical data, a researcher may decide to create and administer online survey where data will be collected through electronic means. A survey method in this particular research includes physical or digital questionnaires that shall help gather both qualitative and quantitative data from subjects. This method will be applied to collect data from question number two.


Interviews are face to face or telephone conversations between two or more people where questions are asked by the interviewer to elicit facts or statements from the interviewee. This involves presentation of oral, verbal stimuli and reply in terms of oral or verbal responses. In this particular research, a researcher will employ interview in data collection so as to gather first hand data from TCRA and MCT staffs, likewise to collect relevant data from chosen media house participants. Multiple focus groups shall be reached including individual persons affected by media laws.  This method used to collect data from question number one and three, interview is expensive and time consuming hence is not desirable when a researcher intends to collect information from huge sample size.


Questionnaire is a research tool or technique which consisting of a series of questions and other prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. A researcher or an organization which conducts research prepares a number of written questions which are to be submitted to and being answered by respondents. The questions in questionnaires must be those which intend to answer research questions, the questionnaires for the purpose of this research were to answer both questions particularly question number two which was intentional designated for normal citizens. The residents of Kinondoni and Ilala Districts in Dar es salaam, Mbeya District in Mbeya were given questionnaires to answer. For the proper usage of questionnaire in data collection, a researcher must make sure that all participants are of sound mind and most important they can read and write. In this research, a researcher conducted interviews when participants failed to understand the questions clearly and when some participants were not capable of reading and writing.

Library research and interview collection of data from secondary sources.

A researcher employed library research to collect information concerning question one and three of this research paper. A researcher intends to collect secondary data from written books, pamphlets, journals, articles, magazines, newspaper, research papers, dissertations and all other written materials relevant to research topic, it is necessary to utilize library resources to acquire all such reading materials, there is a need to visit main library like St. Augustine University’s Library and other universities’ libraries so as to gather written materials relevant to this research topic. Library research is more accurate and time saving because a researcher consults already written books rather than conducting interviews which is expensive and time consuming.

Data Analysis and Presentation Techniques

Data analysis is the systematic process of working with data, organizing/arranging and compiling data into meaningful and manageable form (Lincolin, 1994). This study will use descriptive analysis method aimed at answering the research questions. This method shall place the data in order, manipulate, and interpret raw data from various sources to turn it into valuable insights in this study. The researcher analyzed both qualitative and quantitative data in correspondence to research questions and objectives so as to discover as to whether the findings meet research objectives of the study. Data were collected, categorized, computed and arranged into the evidence required to answer the research questions. Also, the study shall use predictive method to look into the future in order to answer the available research questions.

For quantitative data, simple descriptive analysis which involved frequency and percentages through the use of tables and bar graphs was applied for the aim of presenting the results in line with research objectives. Ordinal scale was used to calculate the quantitative data which was analyzed through the simple descriptive analysis with the aid of statistical package. The study summarized qualitative data by pin-pointing key findings from interview and open questions of questionnaires. The nominal scale was used to measure the qualitative information which was analyzed through the content analysis. Various types of data presentation will be used; these include text presentation, charts and graphs.

Ethical Consideration

In research from Kerlinger (1993), one of the ethical issues to consider when conducting research is obtaining permission. According to a government circular letter Ref. No. MPEC/R/10/1 dated 4th July 1980, the chancellor of the university has the authority to grant research clearance to students. The Vise Chancellor of St. Augustine University of Tanzania was asked for a permit letter and provided clearance letter for this research. This permit was submitted to the appropriate authorities, including the TCRA DG, selected media houses, press club and media stakeholders including Media Council. More so, the research maintained scientific integrity. Integrity was at the center of this study.

Also, the researcher asked the respondents consent to participate and provide data. The researcher was seriously concerned or observed the right of the respondents to privacy and confidentiality of the information deposed. In ensuring conformity to research principles, a researcher guided by a set of ten rules posited by Cook (1976) and Wimmer and Dominick (2006) guiding relations between the researcher and journalists. The rules ensured subjects’ consent, avoided coercion; shun lying about the nature of the research, maintained subjects’ self-respect, prevented mental or physical stress, respected privacy and exercised fairness and respect. This was achieved by carefully designing the survey questions to ensure that they do not cause harm to the respondents.

Findings and Discussion.


This particular part presents and discusses data gathered from the field in relation to the interview questions and questionnaires. In this part, all research questions will be answered and discussed in connection to the comments and opinions of respondents during field study. The findings will test whether the objectives of this research have been accomplished.

Establishment of media legal framework.

Respondents from TCRA and MCT were much interested with the enactment of several new legislations governing media services in Tanzania. According to them, the development of science and technology particularly the introduction of new methods of disseminating information has contributed much to the rapid change on how media operates. Before the coming of these technologies (social media and online platforms), radio and televisions were operating as analogy stations, but the digital ways of operating media came with a number of changes which not only affected the modes on how media operates, but the media legislations were badly wound up. The media legislations before 2010-15 were basically outdated because most of them were covering media stations which were analogy operated.

The provisions in those legislations had nothing to do with digital media which were operating through social media, web-based media and internet simulcasting media. There was a need to enact new legislations which will go further to cover all area of media operation include social media, web-based media and internet simulcasting media so as to establish a competent media legal framework which will monitor the operation of media in Tanzania.

Based on comments made by TCRA staffs, The Media Service Act No. 12 of 2016 (MSA), Electronic and Postal Communications Act No. 3 of 2010 and Cyber Crimes Act No. 14 of 2015 constitutes a best media legal framework which set procedures to acquire licenses, journalist’s accreditation, permitted and prohibited contents, offences, media related suits and appeals before TCRA etc.

This study found that, the medias has transformed from native way of operation to sophisticated ways of operation. As we speak now, every media is available on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. 70% of the journalists agreed that, the social media are most preferred ways which are used by most of journalists and media houses to communicate their contents to the public. The search engines such as Google and Bing are the second platforms after social media which are used in disseminating information followed by direct emails which is less preferred.

The operation of social media is cost effective compare to an analogy Tv stations which need a lot of devices to simulcast just a simple content. Through social media, a smartphone connected to internet is well enough to allow a journalist collect and communicate contents to the public within reasonable time. The social media has increased the speed of disseminating news and information, before the coming of social medias a person was to sit and wait news hour in front of his television but now a person with a smartphone can stream live news when he/she is in office or anywhere even outside the country of his origin.

The social medias came with a lot of side effects to the society, now every person became a journalist since he/she was capable of collecting and disseminating information. The issue of fake and deserving news, breach of people’s privacy and unlawful usage of other peoples’ data became a problem hence government came with all the above legislations to cure the situation.

Unprofessionalism and accreditation of journalists

This study found that, media laws came to cure unprofessional practices of journalists through journalist’s accreditation. 40% of respondents from Media Council of Tanzania agreed that, the accreditation requirements provided under Media Services Act and its regulations are necessary and desirable. Based on their comments, the respondents believes that, journalism is a profession as all other professions such as lawyers, doctors and engineers hence they cannot conduct their activities freely without guidelines and regulations.

The respondents believes that professional journalists must have particular academic qualifications and must observe the professional conducts and etiquette governing journalism as a profession. Unprofessional practices by journalists may lead to dissemination of prohibited contents, defamation, breach of privacy and several other offences because the practitioner (s) lacks journalism’ education and they’re not well acquainted with professional conducts and etiquettes governing journalism.

As per respondents’ responses, a person to be called or recognized as a journalist must be a holder of diploma, degree or higher diploma in journalism or that person belong to the cadre such as editors, reporters, freelancers, correspondents, producers, radio or television broadcasters, students in media and mass communication or any related fields, members of public with outstanding service for media profession or a foreign journalist as provided under regulation 17 of the Media Service Regulations, 2017. Possessing the above qualifications is not enough, but a formal application to the accreditation board must be made in conformity to the requirements of Regulation 20 of the Regulations.

Accreditation is categorized into two to say temporary accreditation and lifetime or permanent accreditation, temporary accreditation is an accreditation of a short period of time. Taking an example student who are taking journalism studies may as for temporary accreditation for learning purposes. Permanent accreditation is designated for people with distinguished reputation in journalism profession or journalists who had served in a top-level position in media for so long or individuals who have significantly contributed to the development or growth of media industry.

Press freedom and freedom of expression

90% of legal practitioners and lawyers who form 10% of the research size had negative comments toward media legislations. 9 out of 10 lawyers stated that, the media legislations interfere the press freedom and freedom of expression at large. The respondents believes that, freedom of expression is a constitutional right provided under Article 18 without claw back clauses. The requirements for registration and licensing of social media or being governed on what to say and what not to say constitutes serious violation of constitutional rights and human rights at large.

The respondents agrees that it is necessary to have media legislations which govern conducts and operation of medias but the laws should not go further to interfere peoples’ right. As per respondents’ comments, periodic registration is a trap of silencing media houses from broadcasting news that government do not like, why is it necessary to media houses to renew their licenses after every 3 years? Respondents recommends permanent licenses to media houses and suspension of licenses to be on serious offences only.

Some respondents claimed that, temporary accreditation is on the same foot as periodic registration, they all intend to subordinate media houses before government. A journalist who is temporarily accredited may face fear of his accreditation being cancelled at any time when he will depose any bad news that the government do not like. Periodic licenses and temporary accreditation of journalists brings serious harm to the provision of information to the community because some important news with public interests will be left intentionally so as to avoid conflict with government.

Heavy license fees

70% of respondents from Africa Media Group were complaining about heavy license fees and complex registration procedures and requirements before TCRA. After the coming of Media Services Act of 2016 and EPOCA (online contents) Regulations of 2018, all online service providers include online blogs, video streaming social platforms and online services were mandatorily required to register their services accordingly. The fee structure was too high to afford, most blogging beginners failed to register their blogs and they were forced to stop providing contents.

The online services providers were required to pay not less than 900 USD equal to 2,000,000 TSH for a license. This period experienced massive closure of blogs, online televisions and websites which totally interfered freedom of expression and sharing of knowledge between the people through online platforms. Registration requirements were also a challenge to some online content’s providers but most of them agreed that the procedures and requirements are necessary for registration and proper supervision of the online content services by TCRA. Some few respondents claimed that it is not necessary to possess certificate of incorporation or registration certificate from BRELA just for a simple blog or a physical office just for a simple cooking related contents blog or Youtube channel.

Respondents claimed that, most of bloggers and Youtubers are freelancers, they work from home with their phones or laptops hence they don’t need any physical office, a requirement that they must have physical office and address is too much for them. Other respondents commented that, the registration requirement is necessary to news or events blogs only, other blogs which provide educative contents or entertainment and all other non-profit blogs or online televisions are not necessarily important to license and supervise them.

Due to a lot of complains made by members of media houses and other stakeholders, the government through EPOCA (Online Contents) Regulations of 2020 which repealed the former regulations of 2018, decided to change a fee structure and introduced new three categories of online content services include news and current affairs, entertainment and education or religion. The fees structure for news and current affairs providers remained to 1,000,000 TSH while the entertainment and education or religion category were only required to pay 500,000 for a license. Even after amendment to the regulations, the fees’ structure is still unaffordable and bureaucracy is a persisting problem which need solution.


According to Article 18 of The Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania, Cap 2 of 1977, every citizen is entitled freedom of opinion and expression of his ideas, has a right to seek, receive and, or disseminate such information regardless of national boundaries, has a right to be informed at all times of the various important events of life and activities of the people and of issues of importance to the society. Making laws which goes against this Article of The Constitution is a total violation of right of freedom of expression and is against international conventions on human rights.

The study has clearly shown that, new media legislations has contributed much to the development of proper media legal regime which covers all areas of media services from traditional ways of media to digital ways of media operation. Before the coming of new ways of media operations which involves the use of internet in dissemination of information, media were operated in traditional or analog ways by installing broadcasting devices in a broadcasting station and the media services were supervised under Electronic and Postal Communication Act.

There was no any serious problem associated with monitoring these media because they were very few and their head offices were physically known and very few people had financial capacity to launch media houses. During 2010s, the social medias took part in media services where now media houses started disseminating their contents through internet. Many social media journalists started to grow, media operation simplified from analog to digital and many people became capable to run media from anywhere without having any broadcasting devices or physical broadcasting station.

The changes came with several problems such as fake news, defamation and sedition. The government decided to enact several new media legislations and regulations so as to cure the problems associated with social media journalism. Media Services Act and Electronic and Postal Communication (online content) Regulations were enacted where now online media service providers were required to register their services to operate legally. The new legislations imposed several new conditions and requirement to register the online content and service providers which were considered by the stakeholders to be tough and to succumb media services. The legislations introduced journalist’s accreditation board to accredit journalists who are allowed to perform journalists’ related activities and the same legislations introduced periodic registration to media houses.

The legislations went under severe criticism from media houses, citizens and international community on being against constitutional bill of rights or human rights and being in controversy to international law standards. Due to serious pressure from internal and external media stakeholders, the government had no choice rather than trying to cover up some gaps by reducing registration fees for online content providers and by creating several other content categories with reduced registration fees. Even after amendment to several media laws said to be in controversy with human rights, still those laws operate in Tanzania and several amendments are suggested to be done over media statutes to guarantee freedom of expression through digital means.



1.     Arusha Press Club (APC), “The situation of media in Tanzania mainland”, Facts finding study report, 2020. Pg. 8-11.

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