Mauritius is long overdue to have a private and independent television station because the majority people who watch our national MBC TV have had enough of the manipulation of news and information which is considered unfair due to its one-sided presentation. It is high time to get rid of such a monopoly as the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation which is contrary to our democratic values. The introduction of a private and independent television station is nowadays a great necessity to combat a monopoly of information forced on the throat of TV viewers in Mauritius, Rodrigues and the outer islands.

For quite some time now, most, if not all, viewers in Mauritius and the outer islands have to contend themselves with limited and one-sided news presentations that are badly edited and tailor-made by the MBC TV only to please and to be in the good book of the government of the day. Notwithstanding the massive protests from the public about the way the MBC TV keeps presenting us the news bulletin, the MBC management could not give a damn and continue to provide us a sort of very limited and censored news contrary to private radios and newspapers of the day, which majority of people prefer to listen or to read.

If we have private and independent television in this country, it would pose a threat or act as a competitor to the MBC TV. On the other hand, it would enhance the media landscape as it would open more to the public debate. We have to be careful that with a private and independent television, certain daring news if not edited properly by professionals, can easily flare into communal riots in society like ours because we are living in a multi-ethnic society. Private TV channels can be both a blessing as well as a blight to our society depending on the private companies that control and monitor the news bulletin. There must be no room for amateurism in the management of private and independent television.

For years now the MBC TV has been an institution of great controversy in so far as news coverage is concerned. Times and again, we have seen on our news bulletin a complete shortage of a balanced news equity in its diffusion. We desperately need a complete change and new reform in our media system that complies with our democratic values with liberal news free and fair.

Today, the MBC with its TV station have become a big topic of controversy to the majority of the population as the MBC does not give value for money to the viewers – or non-viewers – who are required to pay a monthly fee. Past and present governments have always been overprotected by the management of the MBC. No wonder why the opposition is unhappy about the way MBC is functioning.  This is why it is about time that there is the advent of private and independent TV stations to combat the monopoly of the MBC TV and its manipulated news.

There has always been “une guerre de clan” at the MBC which needs to be reviewed. All politicians, “de tous bords”, have used and exploited the MBC for their own interests. It is high time that the PM puts a stop once for all to such malpractices and really considers the introduction of complete independent and private TVs. This idea will suit public opinion.

Both the ruling party and the Opposition have a commitment regarding the introduction of private TV in their manifestos when they fought the 2019 elections but observers of the local scene are sceptical that this will translate into action. However, local broadcasters seem keen that it should come about as it will mean better pay, more freedom in terms of coverage and better job satisfaction.

There are a number of significant obstacles in the way of the desire to create one or more Free to Air private channels. The Ministry of Information that is responsible for broadcasting and its regulator, the IBA, comes under the Prime Minister. It is a rare politician that will let go control of such a key medium.

The Mauritius Investment Board (MIB) has ambitious plans to attract media production to the island. It would be easy to be sceptical about such vaulting ambition. There was similar sceptism when it started promoting the island as an outsourcing destination but a significant level of that kind of work now exists. Therefore, it will be interesting to see whether the industry and the MIB have the same success with media production as the island has had with its outsourcing.

NOTE : Les points de vue exprimés dans cette rubrique ne reflètent pas nécessairement ceux de la rédaction et n’engagent que les auteurs eux-mêmes.