Why it will take quite some time for local media to change

The topic revolving around developing practical strategies of turning around the fortunes of the local media industry is not something entirely new.

The topic revolving around developing practical strategies of turning around the fortunes of the local media industry is not something entirely new.

For those who are keen on seizing the seemingly huge opportunities that come with sustainably tackling challenges that bedevil this sector, it is very obvious that such a topic is not an entirely new thing.

This issue has captured the attention of media stakeholders for a very long time.

Meaning that , in one way or another, this particular topic will continue to occupy the imagination and attention of stakeholders for a very long period of time in the near and even distant future, before any tangible results are seen.

While the Government has been proactive in offering support to levels that can only be said to be enviable and commendable, the real issue, is quite to be frank, the very low level of entrepreneurship within the sector.

When media owners complained some time back, that the public printery at Orinfor was not giving them a good deal-in a hurry Government chipped in by purchasing  a state of the art printer.

Yet almost 4  years down the line  we are yet to see papers coming out, consistently and early in the morning, from the streets of Kigali.

While it is not my style to highlight the many challenges facing the sector, I will briefly dwell on the root causes that bring about these very many challenges.

There is no other way of explaining why these challenges will not go away in the short and medium term.

The main issue here is the seemingly, very low levels of entrepreneurship among the current crop of media owners.

Even the so called “successful private” media outlets cannot  be said to be truly successful if we were to strictly apply the basic assumptions of success in the true sense of its  meaning.

Success in the strict business sense, as media is business, means breaking even and turning a profit after deducting operating costs over a given trading period.

Once such profits have been earned then such positive results are openly reported in the form of profit and loss accounts and other accounting and reporting systems for the purposes of informing stakeholders.

To be honest, we are yet to see any of the so called “successful media” outlets publishing their trading results for stakeholders even in the next few years to come.

What I am saying is that when the leading private media outlets will start publishing  their true trading positions consistently for say 3 years in a row, that is when one can say with some level of certainty that things will start getting better.

Meaning that, primarily, the real problem right now is that most media owners suffer from understanding or embracing for posterity, the basics of running their outfits in a strict business sense.

Very few current crop of owners are even able to craft credible and bankable business plans which are the starting point for the turn around that the sector desperately needs.

That being the case, it cannot be very harsh to say that  it will take quite some time, beyond the medium term to be precise, to have the media owners to fully embrace the concept of entrepreneurship.

This is the reality on the ground. Consequently, it is very unrealistic to expect the current crop of media owners to be transformed almost over night into high flying business gurus. That would be asking for too much too soon.

It is not very convincing to say that a two day conference will lead to a drastic and radical change in the business mindsets of those owning the local media outlets.

Ojiwah@gmail.com

 

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