Amidst public outcry and opposition parties’ complaints at the unfair coverage of political events at the national television station, there are reports suggesting government journalists are not happy with the editorial policy adopted by the Director of Broadcasting, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo. Speaking to The Telegraph on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, an employee at Btv revealed that all tapes containing political footages have to be edited and sanctioned by the Director before they can be aired on Btv.
According to our source, when a tape is brought to the newsroom, the news editors at Btv knows well that it is not upon them to decide whether or not to air the material as their duty is to call Mr. Kaboeamodimo for approval or otherwise.
If the footage contains anything deemed anti government or anti BDP leadership, it becomes obvious Kaboeamodimo will never approve the running of the ‘offending’ tape on Btv.
Many journalists are reported to be frustrated because they put so much skill and devote lots of time on capturing political events only to be let down by superiors who refuse to air their hard work on national television.
The employee described as nonsense recent statements from BDP Executive Secretary, Dr Comma Serema, when he said it was Btv’s policy to extend its coverage to His Excellency the President and his vice only.
“Why then do they assign us to cover opposition party events when they know the policy does not allow for the broadcasting of opposition events?” asked the Btv journalist rhetorically.
Btv has been accused of wasting public funds and resources by dispatching their crews to cover events that are never broadcast for public viewing.
The employee did not rule out the possibility of espionage on the part of the ruling party, through Btv.
There is growing suspicion even among Btv employees that opposition party events are only covered by Btv so that the tapes could be passed on to the BDP leadership to help them understand the effect and weigh the support of opposition parties.
According to our source, the morale is so low at the national station so much so that everyone is looking for a job outside the Mass Media Complex. The station continues to lose many of its employees who are joining other government departments and private institutions, mostly as public relations officers. The Btv employee says many of the journalists who are resigning from the station are not necessarily looking for greener pastures but are driven away by Kaboeamodimo’s interference on Btv’s editorial independence, which relegates them to mere government propagandists.
Btv has, of recent, lost quite a number of employees either through forced departmental transfers or some journalists choosing to leave the station on their own volition.
Among those who were forced to leave Btv and join other government departments are Doreen Moapare, Buyani Zongwani, Lentswe Chibane, Christopher Nyanga, Kitso Mosieemang and Oesi Thothe.
Those who have resigned from Btv include Montsho Mgadla, Osesenaqa Lekgoko, Janet Mudongo, Oteng Mokowe, Public Relations Officer Neoyame Setsile-Shirima, Talkback producer Nonhlanhla Ledimo and Mathoaphage producer Prudence.
Meanwhile, reports from Btv say the employment contract of Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo has been extended.
His contract is reported to have elapsed in the last month but it has since been extended. Contacted for comment, Kaboeamodimo, who was in Kasane on official duty, asked to be sent the questions through sms. The questions were sent and he sent back an sms promising to respond but he had not responded at the time of going to press late Monday night.
We had asked him to shed light on the alleged extension of his contract and his alleged interference in the editing of political material gathered by Btv journalists.
We had also asked him to explain the logic behind assigning Btv crew to cover events that are never broadcast for public viewing.
A Btv crew recently spent the whole day capturing events of an inaugural political rally organized by the Botswana Movement for Democracy in Francistown but the footage was never shown on Btv, raising more questions on the editorial integrity of Btv.