House divided over media bill clause

•Article on money required by investors still being debated The Senate has proposed the amendment of 25 articles in the Media Bill but disagreement has ensued between the two Houses over one particular article concerning the money required for investors to set up a media house.
Senate Speaker Biruta
Senate Speaker Biruta

•Article on money required by investors still being debated

The Senate has proposed the amendment of 25 articles in the Media Bill but disagreement has ensued between the two Houses over one particular article concerning the money required for investors to set up a media house.

According to Madeleine Nirere, the legal adviser to the Upper Chamber of Parliament, some of the articles proposed for amendment were adopted by the Deputies while others had to be discussed in a joint committee made up of members of both Houses.

Whereas the Lower Chamber – which had initially passed the Media Bill before forwarding it to the Senate ¬– wants this money to be specified in the Media Law, the Senate proposes that the money be determined by a ministerial order.

“For the article concerning the requisite budget for setting up a media house, the Senate believes it should be by a ministerial decree, while we suggest it should be one of the articles in this law,” Bernadette Kanzayire, a Deputy who also presides over the Joint Commission explained.

In the Bill, it is suggested that for a person to start up a print media house he/she has to have a capital of Rwf 6m and Rwf 50m and Rwf 100 million for establishing radio and television stations respectively.

The reason the Lower House discouraged the idea of having this amount set by a ministerial decree and not be part of the law when it is passed is that the former  would mean bureaucratic  delays and to avoid that, they proposed it should be made part of the law.

Sitting yesterday, the Joint Commission could not reach a consensus on this particular article, prompting them to push it to Friday for further discussion.

Last week, Senate President, Dr. Vincent Biruta said that the creation of a Joint Commission was a normal constitutional process, which is provided for in article 95 of the constitution, which suggests an establishment of a Joint Commission comprised of five lawmakers from each of the two Houses to find a common ground in case of any disagreement on a certain legislation between the two. 

“When the two chambers fail to agree on all the articles in the Bill, we shall be forced to send it back to the initiator, who in this case, is the Ministry of Information,” Kanzayire told the Joint Commission.

Other amendments that were made by the Senate on the other articles were mostly grammatical errors and misspellings.

Also proposed by Senate, was the omission of article 48 which prohibits investors from owning majority shares in more than one audio-visual press company.

The reason they had given was that this would be a stumbling block to investments in the country. However, the article was reinstated yesterday during the Joint Commission session.

When the joint session agrees on all articles contained in the bill, the Lower Chamber will adopt it and forward it to the Office of the President for promulgation and later be passed as law after publication in the Official Gazette.

Ends

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