Will new strategic plan fix private media’s financial woes?

Following different private media outlets complaints about financial woes; Rwanda Media High Council has said that a five-year strategic plan running from 2020 to 2024 will build an economic environment that supports economic sustainability of media houses as well as creating an environment for media investment and development in Rwanda.

Claver Nzahumunyurwa, a researcher who presented the Media Capacity Building Strategic Plan said that other goals of the strategic plan include media practitioners’ access to appropriate training sessions to boost their professional standards and media professional stability that fully respects ethical values and social responsibility of media practices.

They also include developing the media that respond to society’s needs and ensuring that local content developed by media preserves culture and values.

“There must be more investment in the media sector,” he said.

The plan reveals that the Media High Council will strengthen cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders for the media sector performance in order to contribute to the national development while at the same time helping to improve media content production and promote innovation and quality in the media sector.

The specific skills that will be provided through training, he said, include specialized reporting skills in economy, financial, health, and agriculture.

They again include specialization in TV and online program production, specialization in advanced multimedia: such as video production, editing, and designing skills, marketing, branding, and advertising skills, training on Investigative stories and fact-finding reports, data journalism, media management and use of ICT in media production such as mobile journalism.

There are 181 accredited media outlets operating in Rwanda including 14 TV stations, 33 radio stations, 34 print media, and 100 online media.

According to the Rwanda Media Commission, the total number of accredited journalists is 1,025 of whom 244 females (23.8%) and 781 males (76.2%).

However, in general, the total number of journalists is 1,415 (443 females (31.3%) and 972 (68.7%) most of whom need such specialised skills.

Merging media houses

Peacemaker Mbungiramihigo, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Media High Council said that merging media houses could be one of the solutions to financial woes they face.

“The research indicates that investors who can develop the media sector are still few. But the new five-year strategic plan shows that media houses, on their own, must change their way of operations and go with the new rapid digital era.

We have to build the capacity of media houses to improve their standards so as to attract investors, stakeholders, and development partners to work with them,” he said.

Some media houses must put their efforts together through merging so that their financial capacity gets boosted in terms of equipment, skills and human resources so as to help them generate revenues, he added.

“Starting a media house alone when you do not have enough resources in a small market will always trigger financial constraints,” he stressed.

Media Chamber in PSF

He urged media outlets to closely work with the Private Sector Federation so as to develop the media sector.

“In recent discussions with private sector federation, it said that it is ready to partner with the media sector. This means there are some untapped opportunities. Working with private sector federation could create market opportunities for the media,” he said.

He added that discussions are ongoing to establish a chamber of journalists in the private sector federation.

“This chamber could be called ‘Liberal professional’. We will soon meet private media houses and PSF to discuss the implementation. All chambers in PSF are supported for their development in various ways and therefore media should also have their space and therefore merge some media or work in associations of Radios, Online, TV, etc is paramount,” he said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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