3 December 2012

Rwanda Okays Media Development Fund

Kigali, Rwanda — The Media High Council (MHC) of Rwanda, the body in charge of media regulation has revealed plans to put in place a special media fund aimed at helping build capacity among the country's media houses.

The revelation was made during Rwanda's fourth national dialogue on media development, an annual event organized by MHC to bring together media owners and stakeholders in discussing ways of improving the media industry capacity in Rwanda that is still developing amidst a number of challenges.

This year's dialogue which attracted over 250 participants from and beyond East Africa was organized under the theme, Fostering media sustainability, investment flow and capitalization of the media industry under which several experts discussed and proposed avenues for many cash strapped media houses to exploit for survival.

Speaking during the dialogue's opening session last week, Sadler Kamudyariwa an investment manager of Southern Africa media development fund told participants that many media houses were struggling simply because they lacked a business approach to media management and limited innovations to attract more revenues has left many in the industry struggling for survival.

"Media should be a business and run on business principles if any sustainability is to be registered," remarked Kamudyariwa.

It's now being accepted that the new biggest threat to media expression is no longer government content censorship but rather a lack of cash that limits and undermines media capacity to their job right.

To those familiar with the situation, the dialogue's theme was an accurate reflection of the plight of most media houses in Rwanda where many new outlets immerge but very few manage to survive beyond a year.

Advertising revenues from the private sector are still limited in a young economy just finding its pace leaving the government as the leading advertiser.

"In a situation where we all have to look at the government for business, there's less left for editorial independence," a chief editor of a local paper in Kigali told The EABW.

However, Linus Wamanya, an innovations manager of Vision Group LTD which owns Uganda's New Vision, a government Newspaper told participants that the onus is incumbent upon media managers to be innovative especially through embracing on-line publications.

"Media is dynamic and media managers need to see how to best move with the times and innovation is the key to surviving," advised Wamanya.

While the issue of limited access to funds for media investors came up as an impediment to sustainability, managers were told to stop whining and rebrand their products based on their strong points if they are to stay relevant and appealing to their audiences.

"Like breweries, we should be able to make money...lets drop the come help approach and do business like everyone else," observed a media owner from West Africa.

The debate as to whether media houses should put business before journalism remained unresolved but many agreed that good and deeply researched journalism requires money only obtainable through business.

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