Media plays important role in promoting active citizenry

NOVEMBER 14, 2014

Identified as the voice of the voiceless - the media - especially community media, have a crucial role to play in promoting active citizenry in the country.

This is according to Communications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who made the remarks at the Media Development and Diversity Summit, which was hosted by the City of Tshwane, on Thursday.

The Deputy Minister told the summit, which was attended by representatives from national and community media houses, that a vibrant media sector is also essential to the transformation and deepening of South Africa’s democracy.

“Media practitioners as the representatives of the voiceless - must present the true reflection of the views of the citizens … it is only when we talk openly about the challenges that we are facing as a country that we as government can be able to address the challenges and improve the lives of our people.”

She said the new administration aims to use the media sector to communicate more with local communities and fulfill the mandate of giving every citizen a voice.

“We want to create dialogue everywhere we go,” she said.

However for this goal to be achieved, Deputy Minister Ndabeni–Abrahams said the stories that are written or broadcasted by the media must be a true reflection of the views of the people on the ground.  

There was also a need to ensure that all the role players in the media and communication environment are under the same roof, she said, making an example of educating the public about their rights and responsibilities.

“We need to put the interests of South Africa first.” 

Deputy Minister Ndabeni–Abrahams also indicated that government is in support of a diverse media that is developmental.

She mentioned the work of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) which through its advocacy and lobbying has seen a number of changes which have led to the sector's growth and development of a diverse media.

These changes include, amongst others, an enabling regulatory environment created by ICASA; reduction of tariffs for community broadcasting signal distribution by SENTECH; and discounts provided by printers for community and small commercial newspapers and magazines.

The Deputy Minister however acknowledged that the sector was still experiencing challenges when it comes to the sustainability of community and small commercial media.

The City of Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa deemed the summit an opportunity fit to strengthen ties between its top officials, government communicators and the relevant media houses.

Mayor Ramokgopa said that the City had decided to join the media, because it remains its responsibility to innovatively identify and offer integrated development services and resources that enable media development and diversity.

“An engaged citizenry is incontrovertibly indispensable in the success and growth of a democratic way of life.”

The summit will culminate in a development compact with the media, the community, institutions of higher learning, NGOs and other government agencies to collectively craft a long-term framework for media development and support as part of Tshwane Vision 2055 - which is aimed at improving the quality of life for its citizens, revitalising the economy and industrial development, regenerating townships and attracting investment.

The summit will include presentations, discussions and information sharing on media freedom, funding, access to information, digitisation, and new media as well as the role media can play in the implementation of the National Development Plan.

The summit will conclude with a media networking session in the evening. -


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