September 25, 2008

Watchdog Lauds “Upward Trend” Rwanda’s Media Sector

Text of report in English by Eugene Kwibuka entitled "Watchdog commends Rwandan media progress" published by Rwandan newspaper The New Times website on 25 September

Kigali: Rwandan media underwent positive progress last year despite some areas that need more improvements, a new report of the High Council of the Media (HCM) presented to the public on Tuesday has said. The report, based on data collected by the council to get an overall depiction of the media in the country, was completed in March this year but could not immediately reach the public due to administration replacements in the council, HCM's Vice-President Dr Venuste Karambizi said while presenting it.

The 36-page document highlights the project of installing a modern printery in Kigali, an increased number of radio stations and newspapers, and improved level of professionalism and freedom of the press among other areas of positive developments in the country's media.

"Right from the beginning till the end of the year, Rwanda progressively witnessed an upward trend in media development," the report's summary reads in part.

The fact that Rwanda was also home to a daily newspaper for the first time in its history, referring to The New Times, and one more radio station, Voice of Africa, added to 16 other radio stations is a 'clear testimony of the media development' last year, the report further highlighted.

However, the report also tells the public that all is not rosy in the country's media sector. It pointed a finger at reported violations of press freedom and low levels of journalism ethics and professionalism among some Rwandan journalists.

"Among improvements still to be made, there is need to abide by journalism ethics in order to diminish unprofessional practices," the report recommended.

Several members of the press were attracted by the presentation of the report and they filled a conference room at the Prime Holdings House in Kimihurura.

Some of the criticisms they advanced against the report include the fact that it neither addressed many of journalists' problems in the country, nor provided a detailed picture of the media's financial status.

"For me, this report has limited value...[ellipsis as published] it didn't give details on many things," said Marcel Museminari from Business Daily newspaper.

Officials of the High Council of the Media said that starting this year, a report on the state and function of the media in the country will be compiled every year by the HCM.

The council is an independent public institution whose primary responsibility is to promote and protect media freedom and regulate media. It was put in place by the country's constitution in 2003.

Originally published by The New Times website, Kigali, in English 25 Sep 08.

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