KAMPALA - Media owners and the East African Community (EAC) secretariat, yesterday disagreed on who should take up the prime responsibility of publicizing issues concerning the regional bloc.
The stakeholders were attending a two–day 3rd EAC Media Summit that kicked off yesterday, in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
“When media organizations are starting their operations, they are given business licenses which means they are business oriented although they have a social responsibility to inform,” Reginald Mengi, a regional media mogul said.
Francis Babu, the Chairman of the Uganda National Broadcasting Council urged the EAC to avail the media with information on their activities.
“You should come up and speak to us and give us your timetable on how you want us to air your views. You are sitting in Arusha too much,” he said.
He criticized them for sending officials who do not ably present the regional bloc’s position in the media, adding that the result of this should not be blamed on media houses.
The media owners urged the secretariat to use part of its resources allocated to the media to enhance publicity.
In his presentation, the Director General in the Ministry of Information, Ignatius Kabagambe, thanked the EAC for organising the summit, saying that this would provide a platform to identify what is lacking for the two entities to work collectively.
He however said that much as the media are partners in the integration process, the biggest contribution should come from the regional bloc’s secretariat in Arusha.
The EAC Secretary General Juma Mwapachu said that the secretariat had done a lot to help journalists, including setting up a media centre and having weekly press briefings on EAC issues.
Meanwhile, Uganda’s Minister for EAC, Eriya Kategaya who opened the summit commended regional governments for creating environment that promotes independent media.
He explained that the media landscape in East Africa has greatly improved from what it was fifteen years ago because it has more independence, more freedom and is more respected.
This is the third summit of the kind and it took place under the theme “East Africa’s ten years of progress: the Media as partners in promoting Deeper Integration.”
The Summit takes place at a crucial time when EAC in deepening the integration process with the on going negotiations towards the establishment of the common market protocol which is due to be signed later this year.