Information ministry Hosts Conference on Media Policies

THE Ministry of Information will tomorrow hold a two-day consultative conference to review the country’s media policies and chart a new direction for the sector ahead of impending changes to statutes governing the profession.

Deputy Information minister, Jameson Timba, in a press statement Thursday, said the conference will include “thematic workshops” covering media economics, media training, professional development, gender politics and media law and regulation.

The conference comes at a time when several prospective media operators have submitted applications for licences to launch newspapers as stipulated by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).

Civil society and privately-owned media organisations have criticised existing laws for narrowing democratic space and suffocating media freedom.

Four “key presenters”, according to Timba, will cover a “wide range” of issues that include the anatomy of media laws in Zimbabwe, the role, structure and management of public media and self-regulation.

“Stakeholders from the private media, public media and civic society will present position papers and recommendations on the state of the media in Zimbabwe with particular reference to the challenges and opportunities,” said Timba.

“The conference represents the first consultative step by the ministry as it reviews Zimbabwe’s media environment and policies with a view to advising the inclusive government on its new policy in the context of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme.”

 The September 15 GPA, which ushered in the inclusive government, states that “government shall ensure the immediate processing by the appropriate authorities of all applications for re-registration and registration in terms of both the Broadcasting Services Act as well as Aippa”.

Representatives from media organisations such as the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Misa, the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, the Media Monitoring Project and the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe are expected to present position papers at the conference.

The power-sharing pact also demands the termination of external “hosting or funding” of radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe.

If this measure is fully implemented, the US-based Studio 7 of the Voice of America and SW Radio which both broadcast through the shortwave band could cease coverage on Zimbabwe.

Instead, the inclusive government “encourages” Zimbabwean media entrepreneurs living abroad to make broadcasting applications in terms of the law. –– Staff Writer.

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