A new survey has cited budgetary constraints as a major factor limiting growth of print media in the country.
The “Rwanda Print Media Survey 2015” was conducted by Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) to identify critical factors to the growth and development of the local print media as well as generating data and information which could be used to better inform policy reforms.
According to the survey, finance topped the list of the factors impending growth of the print media businesses in the country.
Despite this, most financial institutions are still reluctant to give credit to the local print media practitioners, leading to shutdown of many businesses in the sector.
It also indicates that only 32 per cent of the public can afford to buy newspapers.
“The inadequate financing, limited market, and lack of experienced journalists are interrelated. Many media businesses have limited access to market, this leads to low financial capacity, which means the ability to competitively hire experienced journalists is limited,” the survey said.
Speaking at a dissemination workshop in Kigali, yesterday, Joseph Njuguna, who headed the survey, said many print media entrepreneurs are finding it hard to access income to operate.
“Finance was found to be the top most factor limiting our print media performers. First of all lack of enough advertisements, translates to sustainability challenge since most of them rely on adverts. Again, the industry is seen as non-profitable or non-viable venture hence financial institutions shun giving soft loans. Advocacy and government facilitation is really needed to sustain the sector,” Njuguna said.
Other challenges highlighted include poor reading culture, lack of qualified journalists to write quality, investigative and unique stories, language barriers, prices of the papers which are not affordable, and consumers’ level of income.
Amb. Fatuma Ndangiza, the deputy chief exeuctive of RGB, noted that addressing the challenges faced by the print media needs collaborative efforts.
“The survey indicates a number of challenges the industry faces, but to be able to overcome these challenges does not need individual effort. The findings call for collaborative efforts to develop and promote the industry,” she said.
“RGB commissioned the survey to assess the profitability, the current capacity, and skills gap and challenges so as to recommend measures which will guide policy and interventions to enable it carry it’s normal responsibility to inform the citizens and of course to play its right role in ensuring social-economic development.”
Amb. Ndangiza noted that the survey was important to respond to prevalent global challenges that print media faces.
She said the print media world over is facing challenges that requires special attention in order to keep in business.
“With advancement of information and communication technology, availability of affordable internet, and of mobile technologies. Print media practitioners can take a chance and rethink the new and innovative business models required to keep their businesses as profitable ventures,” Amb. Ndangiza said.
The survey recommended that the government and private sector facilitates access to the print media market by potential investors through subsidies, lobby commercial banks to offer soft loans, sensitise public on developing reading culture and advocate for investment in low cost printing machines, among others.