Members of the press on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over some of the procedures and processes being undertaken to establish the Media Support Fund arguing that they are being left out in the decision making process.
The journalists expressed their concerns following a press conference at Novotel organised by the Media High Council to present the findings and recommendations of a consultative study on the media ahead of the establishment of the Media Support Fund.
However upon summarizing the findings and recommendations of the study, Patrice Mulama, the Executive Secretary of the Media High Council was received with a torrent of questions from Journalists and heads of different Media houses claiming not to have been contacted during that consultative study, which is supposed to contain views of the members of the press.
Efforts to convince the members of the media that the study was not a conclusive one and their views would be consulted fell on deaf ears and those who attended the meeting argued that the study conducted by Paul Mbaraga already contained views of the members of the media, yet they were not contacted.
They accused the Media Council of dictating on the criteria without involving the views of the media fraternity who will be the major beneficiaries of the fund to be established following a Presidential promise.
President Paul Kagame last year pledged to start a media fund which will help develop the country’s underdeveloped media to at least regional standards.
He however challenged members of the media to come up with forums and legal frameworks through which they could be helped.
Among other things, the members of the media argued that some of the recommendations of the study will only favour already established Media’s rather than helping young ones to grow.
The study states that only media houses known to be regular and have been in publication for at least a year will benefit from the fund.
It also recommended that media companies to benefit from the fund should have completed all legal registration processes and should also exhibit a certain level of professionalism such as labour laws, having at least 5 salaried permanent staff for print media, 2 for associative radios and 10 for TV.
Benefiting companies will also have to fulfil content requirements such as publishing informative and educative material.
However Mulama in defence of the findings of the feasibility study argued that some of those preconditions will be followed in order not to misuse the fund, saying that some media houses are ‘unserious’ especially those with no permanent addresses and no regular schedule.
He underscored the need to control the fund so that in a few years it will be recycled to make it self sustaining rather than relying on government and donor support.
The President of the Media High Council, Dr. Evariste Karambinzi called for calm and understanding from the journalists promising to involve them as much as possible during the process to set up the fund.
Meanwhile the Director of ORINFOR and a member of the Media High Council Oscar Kimanuka assured members of the press that the current web machine printer will solve some of the problems they have been encountering regarding printing while the government is also trying to see how to subsidise on printing materials imported in the country to cut on the costs of printing.