Government supports broadcasting code of conduct: Tweya

WINDHOEK: Government fully supports the Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Service Licensees as proposed by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), the Minister of Information and Communication Technology says.

Tjekero Tweya said this while speaking during the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day in Windhoek on Wednesday.

The theme for this year is ‘Let journalism thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age’. The event was organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)’s Namibia chapter.

“I wish to reiterate that the government through the ministry is in full support of this code. I therefore call upon the media to do the right thing as responsible entities and accept the code as it is everyone’s responsibility to protect the dignity and reputation of all individuals in our society,” he stressed.

CRAN recently proposed a Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Service Licensees in terms of Section 89 (1) of the Communications Act (No. 8 of 2009). The regulations are applicable to all telecommunications and broadcasting service licensees operating in the country. Its purpose is to set out the minimum quality of service standards Namibians must receive from licensees. The new regulations also stipulate reporting requirements for licensees and prescribe a specific reporting format.

According to Tweya, the code would ensure that Namibians can freely and openly debate and discuss matters of public interest on various broadcast platforms available in the country. He stated that the code also contains provisions relating to freedom of expression, protection of privacy, the prevention of broadcasting of divisive and hate speech and discrimination, and the promotion of equality.

Meanwhile, local media reported that during a meeting last month, CRAN acting chief executive officer, Jochen Traut said the minimum quality of service standards regulations will come into force with the publication of the final notice in the Government Gazette. The draft code also states that pursuant to the provisions of Section 93(1) and regulation of these regulations, the public broadcasting licensee has five years from the date of commencement of this code within which to attain 20 per cent local content. All television broadcasting service licensees (commercial and community) have three years from the date of the commencement of the code to attain the broadcasting of 20 per cent local content. All commercial and community radio broadcasting service licensees would also have three years from the date of commencement of the code within which to attain 20 per cent local content.

“Equally, the government will continue to produce policies that would promote a conducive environment in which journalists can produce their work without fear, intimidation or censorship. It is, however, important to emphasise that with rights come responsibilities and accountability, and it is the duty of the government to ensure that all citizens’ rights are protected,” Tweya added.

World Press Freedom Day is commemorated annually on 03 May, which was designated by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an opportunity to celebrate worldwide the fundamental principles of press freedom.

The day also assesses the state of press freedom throughout the world; defends the media from attacks on their independence; and pays tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

According to the Reporters Without Borders Index, Namibia is ranked 17th worldwide and in the top position amongst African countries in terms of the degree of freedom that journalists, media houses and citizens of the country have. This is the fourth time that Namibia holds the top position in Africa, up from position 22 in 2014.