Juba — The media bills are now ready and are awaiting approval by the Council of Ministers before they can be taken back to the National Legislative Assembly for enactment, Hon Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin the caretaker minister for Information and Broadcasting, has announced.
Dr Marial said that the bills, which include the Media Council Bill and South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation Bill have been returned to the Ministry after being refined by the Ministry of Justice. He said that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will meet with the ministries of Justice, and Telecommunications and Postal Services to review the bills before submitting them to the Council of Ministers, possibly next week.
The caretaker minister reiterated the government's commitment to the freedom of the press. However, he pointed out that the people of South Sudan have high expectations of the media. He urged media practitioners to work diligently so as not to disappoint the people. He said that there is need for programmes to build the capacity of the media professionals to empower them to design and deliver appropriate media products for South Sudan.
He also explained that South Sudan has made remarkable strides towards buttressing media freedom in the country in spite of the fact that it has just become independent. He appealed for patience and explained that the media environment needs time to mature. He said that even leading media entities like the BBC took time to develop.
Dr Marial made these remarks this morning when he opened a media workshop, co-sponsored by his ministry and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in Juba. He appreciated the role played by the Japanese government in supporting media development in the country through capacity building.
Talking at the same workshop, the JICA representative in South Sudan Mr Atsushi Hanatani expressed JICA's readiness to support the media in South Sudan through a wide range of programmes. He underscored the role of a free and professional media in the development of a democratic society. He said that JICA has brought leading media experts from Japan to share tips with their South Sudanese counterparts on various elements of media practice.
The Acting Undersecretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Mr Mustafa Biong Majak thanked JICA for sponsoring seven of the Ministry's senior officials and five journalists for a two-week training in Japan in May this year. He said the course provided a good opportunity for the officers to get exposed to and learn modern journalism techniques.
The one-day workshop will discuss election reporting, challenges of the mass media in post-conflict countries and enhancement of the media through technology, among other topics. There will also be a special session for media engineers later in the afternoon.