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Media sector needs bailing out

GOVERNMENT must prioritise investment into the media sector to afford citizens the right to access information, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Media and Broadcasting Services chairperson Caston Matewu has said.

Matewu made the remarks during a familiarisation meeting with media stakeholders under the auspices of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ).

“The committee is concerned that most media organisations, especially the recently licensed television and community stations, are struggling to break even,” he said.

“For us, we view the media not just as a business enterprise, but as an enabler of citizens’ right to access information and developmental tools.

“To this end, our plea as government is that there are measures put in place to bail out the sector and to encourage investment into the sector.”

Matewu said the anticipated reforms to the Broadcasting Services Act should be expedited to allow for foreign direct investment into the sector.

“Our priorities are informed by inputs from stakeholders and from the legislative agenda,” he said.

“Two laws are set to be reviewed in this legislative year and we are consulting with the stakeholders concerned in considering the amendments. We are meeting with the ZMC [Zimbabwe Media Commission] in a fortnight in anticipation of the coming law.”

MAZ co-ordinator Nigel Nyamutumbu said there are areas of convergence between the outlined priorities by the committee and the advocacy issues that MAZ was raising.

“There is general consensus on the areas for reforming the media sector. On our part, we want to sustain momentum for reforms. The committee has new members, save for a few, but we are encouraged by their appreciation of the issues that need to be addressed,” he said.

Nyamutumbu further noted that various issues were explored including the impeding sexual harassment policy, proposals for a National Employment Council for journalists and the need to transform the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation into a genuine public service broadcaster.

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