See also:
» 16.01.2009 - Journalists organisation criticises new media law
» 11.07.2008 - Fear surrounds Botswana Sim-card registration
» 26.10.2006 - Botswana state media "muzzled" in San expulsion affair
» 12.04.2006 - Botswana moves forward with controversial media law
» 22.03.2006 - Media in Botswana assured of further freedom
» 11.08.2004 - Botswana Minister interfering in state media
» 13.01.2004 - Women demand gender equality in Batswana media
» 18.11.2003 - Govt editorial interference in Batswana broadcasters

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New Botswana media bill to curb biased reporting

afrol News, 21 April - Botswana's Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Communications, Science and Technology ministry, Lucky Moahi, says the anticipated Mass Media Bill will "ensure a more balanced reporting where both the writer and the source would enjoy equal treatment." Botswana's press has urged reforms to the country's "draconian" media legislation and regulations.

According to a communiqué issued by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) today, Mr Moahi last week had addressed communities in Masunga - a remote village in north-east Botswana at the Zimbabwean border. Villagers in Masunga had earlier complained on state media coverage provided to them, saying the media did not provide fair coverage as most events in the district are neither published in newspapers nor aired over the radio and television.

Mr Moahi presented the villagers with the new media bill, which "seeks to ensure that journalists do their work professionally and maintain standards to curb biased reporting." The deputy permanent secretary said that the Botswana government set up a consultative committee to consult the public on how they would like the media to operate and come up with positive suggestions.

The committee comprises of deputy permanent secretary, director of Information Services, one official from BOCCIM, Botswana Press Council and MISA's Botswana chapter. Mr Moahi explained that the bill would ensure that "both the reporter and the source are equally and fairly protected."

He added that currently there is no Act that guides and administers the print media, adding that the Broadcasting Act only caters for the radio and television. Mr Moahi assured his audience that once enacted the bill would ensure that the media enjoys free reporting, but not the freedom to abuse or exploit principles accorded by the act.

He called for the true and concrete provision of information by sources to ensure that journalists do not mislead the general public with wrong information. He added that "the media is there to ensure that the right information is provided to the public and therefore it should be used to help bring development within communities and the country at large."

While there is currently no general mass media law in Botswana, there are however several regulations affecting print media. MISA earlier this month for example protested the National Security Act, a "draconian" law that had been introduced in 1986 at the height of apartheid South Africa's aggression towards its independent neighbours.

MISA's Botswana chapter has asked the government for a public explanation of the reasons for retaining the act, saying it "limits media freedom." Modise Maphanyane, director of MISA-Botswana, said the act was introduced "under duress", when Botswana was a target for military raids from South Africa against ANC activists - circumstances which no longer apply.

Since its enactment, the act has been used to charge seven people, among them Australian professor Kenneth Good, a University of Botswana political science lecturer who is currently fighting a deportation order after being declared a "prohibited immigrant". The order followed his presentation of a lecture paper questioning Botswana's democratic record.

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