State TV Anchor-man Quits Protesting Government Meddling

Gaborone- Botswana (PANA) -- A senior officer at the state-owned Botswana TV (BTV) resigned Friday in protest at what he claimed was government's gross interference in the running of the station.
In his quit notice, Briton Chris Bishop, who was in charge of the pivotal news and current affairs section, said that he could no longer work with the level of interference exercised by the government on the station.
"I can no longer run a TV news service with the current level of interference.
I feel that it not only renders the running of TV news impractical, but also cheats the taxpayers to which the service belongs," Bishop said.
Contrary to what was stated when he was recruited last year, he said, Botswana authorities have not allowed him much room to operate independently.
He revealed that his colleagues at the station have also been subjected to censorship by the government.
"The journalists at BTV and myself have often been harassed by officialdom.
" On a number of occasions, Bishop charged, he has been issued with veiled threats about certain stories handled by the station and that the Botswana office of the president was about to dispatch an officer to control news at BTV.
"We have been criticised for interviewing certain people on the news despite the fact that basic journalistic ethics dictate that we do so.
The latest threat is that the office of the president is considering sending an officer to control the news.
" Should that happen, Bishop warned, it would be the end of news at the station.
"My final question is if the wish is to run BTV merely as a government information service, what is the point of having journalists working as journalists.
"If BTV wants to be a credible news service, journalists should be given the freedom to do their job without fear of intimidation," he asserted.
Recently eye-brows were raised when the powers that be ordered a documentary on executed South African woman, Mariette Bosch, not to be shown on BTV at the last minute.
The stopping of the documentary, which was a brainchild of Bishop, led BTV journalists to protesting at what they termed as "government interference" in the station.
It is believed that the Bosch documentary was the immediate cause of Bishop's resignation.

27 april 2001 19:38:00

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