Bereng Mpaki | ‘Marafaele Mohloboli
THE Communications, Science and Technology Minister, Sam Rapapa, on Friday tabled the second draft of the National Media Policy in parliament.
This followed cabinet’s 7 September 2021 approval of the policy.
The policy seeks to provide a guide that governs the conduct, behaviour and practice of media proprietors, media producers, editors and other practitioners in line with universally accepted standards.
It provides a framework to which to refer when ethical and other dilemmas surface.
The policy draft is a result of wide consultations with media owners, producers, editors and other practitioners.
“The media policy is a national guide for media players – media proprietors and owners, editors and senior managers, as well as practitioners,” reads the executive summary of the media policy draft.
The policy also comes on the back of calls, including public views obtained for the ongoing national reforms process, for a professional media sector which adheres to the canons of journalism in line with universally accepted codes of ethics.
“It governs their conduct, behaviour and practice so that they toe nationally and internationally accepted norms and standards of ethical practice. The media policy enjoins the media sector to adhere to the canons of the journalism profession.
“The policy is underpinned by principles such as seeing the media as a public good, an information tool, and media as a civic education platform within society. The media is a depicter of cultural diversity of society. Other principles espoused by the policy are that the media is an instrument for accountability, a propeller of peace-building, an injector of social cohesion and national unity as well as a catalyst for national development. It also espouses the principle that the media shall be an agenda-setter within society, a catalyst and an agent for democratic consolidation within society.”
Among others, the media policy is meant to guide legislative framework which is worthwhile for the local media sector to create an enabling environment for the industry to operate in. It is also meant to develop a media sector that is conscious of its role and create regulatory mechanisms and systems for proper governance of the media sector. It is expected to provide guidelines that create a window for members of society to have recourses that they can use when injured by the media content.
The policy contains 28 guidelines to regulate the media industry. These range from media ownership, access to information, ethical conduct and practice, safety and security of media practitioners, editorial independence, media advertising, entry requirements, training and development among others.
The policy applies to proprietors, producers, editors, senior managers, interns, volunteers and other practitioners in the field.
Mr Rapapa this weekend expressed joy for bringing the policy to parliament.
“I have tabled the media policy and this makes me the first minister to have done so. Since I had already noted the politics surrounding it, I did not change a single word from it and have passed it on as is. This is why it is even written ‘National Reforms Authority’ and hopefully it will sail through,” Mr Rapapa said.