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Commonwealth Observer Reports Lopsided State Media Coverage In Malawi - 2004-05-20


A media advisor for the Commonwealth Observer group says the Malawi state broadcaster, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, has given very little time to opposition campaign coverage. This goes against provisions in the country?s constitution and rules issued by the Malawi Electoral Commission, which say the state media should provide accurate and balanced news of political events in the country.

The electoral commission says it does not have a mandate to force the state media to provide balance ? a view that was disputed recently by the country?s Supreme Court. And the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation says it lacks resources.

But Commonwealth Media Advisor Tim Neale says the MBC was provided with scores of stringers and that in the past it has provided accurate coverage with the same resources ? for example, during the country?s first multi-party elections in 1994. His findings will be considered by the Commonwealth when it delivers its final report on whether the election campaign was ?free and fair.?

English to Africa reporter William Eagle spoke with Mr. Neal in Blantyre. Click above link to download or listen to interview.

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