19 October 2011

South Africa: Media Has Significant Democratic Responsibilities

Pretoria — The media has an important role to play in helping people communicate to strengthen democracy, says the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), as it marked Media Freedom Day on Wednesday.

Lumko Mtimde, CEO of the MDDA, said the media should promote a culture of human rights, enable all citizens to fully participate in economic growth, and speed up transformation and development.

This could only be achieved if all citizens, regardless of their social class, had access to a range of media, he said.

"We should remember that media freedom is for all citizens and not just for media practitioners. Media also provides a window of transparency in government and injects life to a country's economy by publishing financial and market information to citizens, allowing them to participate freely and fruitfully in their country's economy," Mtimde added.

Access to communication and information empowered citizens, facilitated participatory democracy, and helped defend, advance and deepen democracy, he noted.

Mtimde also called for rural communities to be better exposed to media products.

"We must ensure that rural communities have access to all media including radio, television, online, mobile and print services. We must ensure responsible journalism and that our media is transformed to reflect South Africa in every respect. We must also support and create an enabling environment for media development and diversity," he said.

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