Senate to hold consultative meeting with media owners

Rwandan journalists capture images during a press conference in Kigali .Sam Ngendahimana.

Nearly 200 people are expected to take part in a consultative meeting organised by the Senate on Thursday to talk about how the media in Rwanda is playing its role in the country’s development and how challenges that affect the sector can be addressed.

Organised by the Senatorial Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Good Governance, the meeting aims to assess the media’s role in improving lives in the country and how the sector can be supported.

According to Rwanda Governance Board (RGB)’s Citizen Report Card for 2017, citizens are happy with the media’s role in promoting good governance and good relationships among Rwandans at the rate of 87.9 per cent.

RGB reports indicated in 2016 that the country has more than 35 radio stations, 12 television stations, 50 newspapers, and 80 online news websites.

But lack of financial means continues to dog the media industry and experts in the sector have suggested that a financing model for media organisations should be put in place.

The executive secretary of the Rwandan Journalists Association, Gonzaga Muganwa, told The New Times that the Senate’s meeting should try and address the issue of financial challenges for the media.

“There are many models that can be used to support the media as long as there is political will to do so. For instance, if any person who has electricity and listens to the radio or watches television can pay a small charge for the media; that can be a lot of money,” he said.

Ahmed Pacifique who is the Founder and Managing Director of BTN television also said that financial challenge is the most pressing issue for the media at the moment.

“A fund should be set up to help media houses just like different funds exist to support a number of causes; we need a BDF (Business Development Fund) for the media,” he said.

At the session in the Senate, two main topics will be discussed, including what was done to develop the media sector in Rwanda and how the media partners with other institutions to carry out its work as well as the role of the media in national development.

Participants expected at the forum include parliamentarians in both chambers of Parliament, officials from different ministries and para-statals, representatives of the civil society and the private sector, and more than 100 media owners.

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