KIGALI - Former Orinfor director, Joseph Bideri, has been appointed the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The New Times Publications.
Bideri joins the private media outlet which runs two newspapers, including the country’s only daily, after eight years at the helm of Orinfor, the state-run media group.
The New Times Publications runs The New Times daily newspaper, weekly Sunday Times and Izuba, a tri-weekly Kinyarwanda publication.
Upon his arrival recently, Bideri, who has also been a member of the board of directors of The New Times (TNT), promised management and staff that they would work together to improve on the quality and circulation of both publications.
The former Acting Managing Director Ignatius Kabagambe will be assigned other duties in the upcoming internal restructuring exercise.
Bideri, who was replaced by Oscar Kimanuka as Orinfor director in April, is credited for bringing about several remarkable achievements during his term of office at the government media organisation. It is during his tenure that Radio Rwanda started to run 24 hours, which made it the first public broadcaster in the region to operate a non-stop programme.
According to management staff at Orinfor The New Times spoke to, it was Bideri who ensured that Radio Rwanda goes online.
They said this has helped much particularly in reaching out to Rwandans in the Diaspora. Even the country’s detractors have appreciated this.
They said that the now TNT boss also initiated and implemented an overhaul of the Radio’s programming system, as well as introducing a Computer Aided Broadcasting (CAB) syetem, which brought Radio Rwanda into the digital age.
“In 2002, for the first time in the history of broadcasting in Rwanda, the former Cyangugu prefecture (now part of the Western Province) was able to receive Radio Rwanda and RTV transmission,” one of them recalled.
Furthermore, they added, Orinfor is successfully running three community radio stations in Huye, Rubavu and Rusizi districts, all of which were set up during Bideri’s tenure.
It also emerged that by the time Bideri left, Orinfor was installing community radio transmission facilities in Nyagatare and Musanze districts.
By the time of his appointment at Orinfor in 1999, RTV was running three days in a week with a 12-hour schedule. By the time he left RTV was a 24-hour service, working seven days a week.
In addition, it was under his leadership that RTV acquired equipment for digital editing.
In the Orinfor’s printing section – the public media group runs the now bi-weekly Kinyarwanda Imvaho and French weekly La Nouvelle Relève newspapers. Bideri, sources at Orinfor said, personally traveled to Germany from where he purchased printing equipment that continue to print not only the two papers, but also other newspapers including The New Times and Izuba.
And indeed the much-talked about web machine that has generated a lot of controversy owing to the fact that Orinfor has up to now failed to install it, was not only identified but also purchased and paid for during Bideri’s tenure.
The web machine, which was brought into the country in March, has also attracted the attention of President Paul Kagame, who has on several occasions directed for its immediate installation to help print local newspapers, most of which are currently printed outside the country.
Asked what he has on the table for The New Times Publications, Bideri revealed among others that the company would soon set up a radio station to be called Times FM.
Speaking from his new office, a seemingly relaxed Bideri promised readers improved quality and paper circulation.
While introducing the new MD to the TNT management, the Chairman of the Board of Directors said that Bideri has both the experience and credentials that the Board is confident will take the company to greater heights.
Bideri’s arrival at the Kimihirura-based media house comes just one and a half years after The New Times became a daily, and three months after the birth of Izuba, a now tri-weekly sister Kinyarwanda publication, which will officially be launched this Friday at Prime Holdings Conference Centre in Kigali.
Bideri, who has also previously served as government spokesman, held other senior positions before.
Prior to his appointment as Orinfor boss in 1999, he had served as presidential advisor on media and public relations and as director of information in the then Vice President’s office.
And for a long time, Bideri had been a member of the Board of Directors of Orinfor.