MEDIA COUNCIL OF MALAWI MCM

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? Regional Conference on Media in a Globalised World: The Impact of New Media on Journalism. The Panari Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya 1st to 3rd May 2009. Balancing Competing Interests in the Media: The Case of Commercial Interests Vs Editorial Independence By Baldwin Chiyamwaka. The various competing interests in the media The various interests as regulators, the most powerful interest determines what goes in the newsCommercial interests: the Case of PSBHarmonising the various interests: Case of Zodiak Radio Station in Malawi.

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MEDIA COUNCIL OF MALAWI MCM

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1. MEDIA COUNCIL OF MALAWI (MCM)   Promoting A Vibrant Media that is Professional and Accountable to the Public

2.   Regional Conference on Media in a Globalised World: The Impact of New Media on Journalism. The Panari Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya 1st to 3rd May 2009 Balancing Competing Interests in the Media: The Case of Commercial Interests Vs Editorial Independence By Baldwin Chiyamwaka

3. The various competing interests in the media The various interests as regulators, the most powerful interest determines what goes in the news Commercial interests: the Case of PSB Harmonising the various interests: Case of Zodiak Radio Station in Malawi OUTLINE

4. Journalists must be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know (The Society of Professional Journalists) Freedom from all obligations except that of fidelity to the public interest is vital (The American Society of Newspaper Editors) For many years now, globally, the media has assumed and reinforced its important role as a legitimate reflection of public interest and opinion (Media Council of Malawi) Quotes for Codes

5. Governmental-National Interest Political Interest Audience-Consumers Owners-Board Media-Gatekeepers Journalists self - interest Public Interest-Editorial Independence Advertisers-commercial Interest The Various Competing Interests in the Media

6. such as democracy leads to explicit policy formulation such as legal restrictions and certain expectations in terms of how the media should function in society. These expectations could lead to implicit policy formulation. Codes of conduct are good examples of implicit policy formulation. In democracies these codes are indicative of the fact that the media are prepared to regulate themselves – in line with societal expectations. Ideological interests

7. The most decisive source of policy formulation, at national level, is the state. Within the jurisdiction of the state political parties in multiparty systems can formulate their policies on information and the communication media. When a party comes to power, its policy becomes the official policy of the country and may be embodied in legislation. Policy Makers in the External Policy Framework have Particular Interests

8. The nature of the relationship between a national government and the media is decisive for what the media are allowed to publish. The main reason for this is that the media are legally, normatively and structurally subject to the control of political. The key relationship that links the media to society, is that between the media organizations and the government. The media of a nation, more than any other kind of institution, are shaped by the prevailing type of political power. Government (National)

9. Pressure groups can also influence the content of newspapers. Hiebert et al (1991:107) point out that the voice of an individual fades as the media become larger. As a result, people organize themselves into groups in order to be heard. Groups usually apply pressure to force journalists to change the news or to omit a story, which constitutes censorship, or they apply pressure to induce journalists to use self-censorship (cf. Oosthuizen et al 1991). Pressure Groups

10. Media workers or journalists do not differ much from other professional people such as doctors and attorneys. They have to make complicated decisions in their daily work, and they use ethical codes to guide them in making these decisions. These codes and the journalistic conventions or professional standards of the media workers are important determinants of newspaper content. Nevertheless, journalism differs from other professions in that journalists do not lose their jobs if they fail to observe these codes. The profession as regulator

11. In the West, where capitalism forms the basis of the economy, the consumer (or reader) and the advertiser are probably the main regulator of the press. The operative principle here is supply and demand and this principle, together with the audience characteristics, determines the content of the newspaper. Consumers

12. Directorates, Board and Group Managers Editor Director General Administrative-hierarchical Gatekeeping: journalistic and professional practices. GATEKEEPERS

13. Commercialisation In the communication industry this has meant greater emphasis on market position and profitability other than public interest, public service and related standards, such as universality. COMMERCIAL INTEREST: the Case of Public Service Broadcasting -PSB

14. Public broadcasting is in growing competition with private and commercial broadcasters. It is now ruled by corporate philosophy in which the emphasis is on: competition and beating the competitor cuts in production costs in order to produce content at the lowest cost exploitation of new markets for what is bound to be an increasingly fragmented market co-productions and facility sharing Commercial Interests - PSB

15. It is argued that economic trends particularly, commercialisation, privatisation have contributed to the decline of PSB. It has transformed broadcasting in general to mediocrity, market centeredness and predictability. The Impact of Economic Trends on Media - Public Broadcasting Service

16. PSB is in growing competition with private and commercial broadcasters. It is now ruled by corporate philosophy in which the emphasis is on: competition and beating the competitor cuts in production costs in order to produce content at the lowest cost exploitation of new markets for what is bound to be an increasingly fragmented market co-productions and facility sharing Corporate Philosophy: Ideals of Commercially interested Media

17. “Public broadcasters view their audiences as citizens in a democracy to be informed, engaged and challenged through innovative, high-quality and comprehensive programming, not as consumers to be delivered up to advertisers”. Quentin Dempster, journalist, author and ABC broadcaster Commercialisation of PBS

18. John Field participating in the Australian debate on commercialisation of PBS argues that a growing academic literature holds that any influence of market forces will detrimentally affect public service broadcasters. Democracy, it is argued, can only be effective if its citizenry is informed and educated. Commercialisation of PBS

19. The perceived “commercialisation” of public broadcasters is therefore seen as a “downgrading” of democracy, with funding from advertising purportedly leading to an increase in “mind-numbing” sit-coms and Hollywood movies and a decrease in news, current affairs, documentaries and educational programming. Commercialisation of PBS

20. In the same debate but earlier, Nuovo Paese argued that SBS was “TV for the people, not the market”. When, in November 1991, it became clear that advertising would soon be a reality, the front page of La Fiamma theatrically declared that “SBS is dead”. Commercialisation of PBS

21. It is said that advertisers in the West insist on a particular type of news presentation and will withdraw their advertising should the newspaper fail to comply. True or False? Allegations of such flagrant manipulation are probably somewhat exaggerated. Nevertheless, it is true that advertisers are guilty of subtle or indirect manipulation or influencing of news content. Advertisers

22. In view of present economic demands, a newspaper will, however think twice before publishing a story that will annoy its largest advertiser. However, the advertiser’s power of regulation depends on the degree to which the medium is dependent on income from advertisements. Newspapers are greatly dependent on advertisements for their survival. Advertisers

23. Since early eighties there has been a worldwide tendency to follow a marketing approach in the newspaper business. This means that newspapers have primarily become vehicles between readers and advertisers. As a result of this approach, one could argue that the potential influence of advertisers has increased. Advertisers

24. In the media business two products are sold: media products and media audiences The key to media profits is to access the largest possible audience(s). The question is: are audiences for sale or service in the media industry-paradox Selling Media Products and Accessing Audiences

25. Media owners can gain access to audiences in a number of ways, or we could say they sell their products through a combination of ways: direct sales subscriptions licence fees subsidies advertisers Access to audiences (or how to sell media products)

26. The production of media products is expensive. The above means of selling media products are not sufficient to finance production costs. For example, in 2000 it cost R18 to produce a single copy of one of South Africa’s largest newspapers, Beeld (largest in terms of readership figures). However, the price paid for a copy of Beeld at a newsstand was only R2,30. Cost of Production

27. Let the media be managed, run and practised by the passionate media professionals who professionally manage the interest that be. Harmonising the Various Interests

28. They have been able to harmonise the key competing interest by developing an editorial policy that focuses on the public especially the marginalized rural masses. The editorial policy was publicly launched at a colourful ceremony. They are able to be heard throughout the country The Case of Zodiak Radio Station in Malawi

29. Zodiak is  the leading private radio stations in the country with a growing potential influence that is steadily surpassing that of public broadcasters focusing largely on the marginalised populations on development issues The founding Managing Director, former producer at Malawi’s public broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation received a Life Achiever award at the MISA Malawi 2007 Awards when the ZBS was only 2 years old. The Case of Zodiak Radio Station in Malawi

30. It is the only private commercial radio station that has officially been accredited to cover the 2009 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. It was the only privately owned radio station that Parliament particularly on the opposition benches accepted to cover Parliamentary proceedings live (not implemented) The Case of Zodiak Radio Station in Malawi

31. Key Presidential candidates from the main opposition parties and the ruling party in the run up to 2009 PP Elections mentioned the name of ZBS Managing Director, Gospel Kazako to be the moderator at Media Council of Malawi’s Presidential Debate. ZBS has probably the biggest advertising share on the market now Under the slogan “Zikacitika mumvera kwa ife” the radio station has become the most popular and trusted radio station in Malawi. The Case of Zodiak Radio Station in Malawi

32. (There was a similar decent number of political parties registering air time. In these three weeks, on balance, UDF and MCP fared considerably better than DPP. However, Zodiak’s internal elections guidelines and their published statement of editorial policy suggest that they have every intention of delivering balanced output. Addressing primarily a rural population via a good network of transmitters, Zodiak has a strong part to play in sensitising the 80% of people who live in the countryside to the issues and policies being debated by parties and candidates. Malawi Electoral Commission Comment on Zodiak

33. Zodiak’s total political output may be much smaller than, say, that of MBC1 or Joy Radio but is it fairly well balanced which is a creditable achievement for a station moving towards its first election period (MEC). Malawi Electoral Commission Comment on Zodiak

34. This station has increased its amount of political news and still been able to give the major parties a share of positive coverage. Its inclusion of negative news and comment is pitched at a reasonable one third of its political output. As far as the major parties are concerned, this is distributed on an equitable basis (MEC). Malawi Electoral Commission Comment on Zodiak

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