Media players divided on regulation

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Group Editor-in-Chief Vincent-Kahiya

STAKEHOLDERS in the media industry are currently divided over the type of regulation that should guide them with those in the private media supporting voluntary self-regulation while State media players want co-regulation.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

The divisions emerged when media players debated the options during a stakeholders’ meeting with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services in Harare on Wednesday when the majority in the audience supported self-regulation currently being co-ordinated by the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ).

However, there were others who strongly argued that self-regulation was not effective in enforcing its judgments.

They proposed, therefore, to have co-regulation which involves self-regulation and statutory regulation as an appeals body.
Recommendations about co-regulation in Zimbabwe were that VMCZ would come in as partner to the State-controlled Zimbabwe Media Commission.

Alpha Media Holdings editor-in-chief Vincent Kahiya said what was critical was for media organisations to be credible.

“Our conduct as media organisations should be straightforward. What we should not lose sight of is that we should be accountable. It’s important that accountability should be at the core of everything we do,” Kahiya said.

He said the voluntary form of regulation had proved to be credible in the country as it had managed to amicably resolve several media-related disputes which could have spilled into the courts.

Kahiya said it was imperative for stakeholders to further probe co-regulation and see how it could be implemented.

South African Press Council executive director Joe Thloloe said in his country they used independent co-regulation which has six members from the media sector and six others from the public.

Veteran journalist Geoff Nyarota said on the recommendations made by the Information Media Panel of Inquiry, VMCZ would come in as a bigger partner while the ZMC will play second fiddle.

However, the majority of contributors felt that the VMCZ would be dominated and rendered powerless in that set-up.

Kumbirai Mafunda, Media Institute of Sothern Africa (Misa-Zimbabwe) chairperson said his organisation was opposed to
co-regulation as it would stifle media independence.

Parliamentarians said they preferred co-regulation as it provided some checks and balances on how the media operates.

They added such an arrangement was likely to receive support from the State media which has shunned the VMCZ.