Calls for Parly to establish TV, radio channel

Friday, May 10, 2013

By Amukelani Chauke

Pretoria - Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Obed Bapela, has called on Parliament to restart the process of establishing a television and radio service.

Delivering the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) 2013/14 Budget Vote Speech in Parliament on Thursday, Bapela said this would ensure that the government provides a platform for citizens to hold their leaders accountable by having access to in-house debates.

"We … call to the Parliament to restart the process of the establishment of the Parliament television and radio, as the law dictates that we should provide a platform to account and debate issues of national interest to the citizens of this country.

“In the meantime, we should look at creative ways on how we can develop content for the DSTV Parliament Channel, while waiting for the process of establishment to be finalised,” he said.

Bapela also said the government was looking at a possibility of reviewing the MDDA's overall mandate to accelerate media transformation.

The agency was formed to ensure that every South African has access to a choice of diverse media by giving grants to citizens to assist them to create small community newspapers and radio stations.  

“This will be done with an end game in mind that allows public discourse to flourish and where a diverse, vibrant and creative media flourishes and reflects the needs and aspirations of all South Africans.

“This may include possible amendments to the MDDA Act of 2002. As we celebrate 20 years (of democracy), we need to review the mandate,” said Bapela.

He said since the agency was formed in 2003, it had – with limited funding amounting to R233 million – supported 284 media projects around the country from historically disadvantaged communities.

The agency – formed in partnership between government and major print and broadcast organisations – was established to promote media transformation and diversity through ownership, control and access in all languages.

He said government, along with its funding partners, aimed to increase the agency’s funding to fast track media transformation.

“We need to build strong partnerships with all community media and all government in general, in order to achieve the 100% access to information as espoused in the 2030 vision of the National Development Plan (NDP), where all communities, even in the deep rural areas, can also enjoy 100% access to information.”

Bapela said as of March 31, the agency had created 300 direct and indirect jobs, trained 1 800 people in media and financial management and provided 147 bursaries.

He also said Parliament would soon get a progress report on an inquiry into media transformation.

The inquiry - led by the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team, established by the print and digital media - was established last August after calls from Parliament and civil society to produce a charter on media ownership and transformation. - SAnews.gov.za

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