REGULATION & POLICY

DRC: Senator Modeste Mutinga Mutuishayi tries to introduce a media law

Since the end of the monopoly of Voice of Zaire, DRC has become one of the most lively media markets in the whole of Africa. There 107 TV stations, of which 49 are in the capital Kinshasa and 274 radio stations of which 39 are in the capital.

Step forward Senator Modeste Mutinga Mutuishayi, a deputy in the “chamber haute” of the country’s parliament who wants to pass a law to bring “order” to what he sees as anarchy, a law based on Article 123, Point 9 of the Constitution, he says. The law has been under discussion in Parliament since 30 March 2010.

Indeed, the legitimate purpose of this bill, says Senator Mutinga, is "to improve quantitatively and qualitatively audiovisual production in DRC”. He also observes that "the provisions of this bill will apply to both public and private sectors. The public broadcaster will be subject to fundamental principles enacted by this bill in regard to domestic production, advertising, sponsorship, online contest, teleshopping, the protection of the child and safeguard the dignity of Women ". Also he believes that the law will allow the broadcast regulator the Haute Conseil L’Audio-Visuelle to set standards according to an agreed law.

Since there is no current legislation governing the sector, the confusion is total: those who have watched what is happening during a similar transition in Cameroon will be familiar with the results. According to Mutinga, amateurs and even those who call themselves professionals take the opportunity to "do anything", ethics and professional ethics thrown into limbo. The important thing is to make money. TV and radio stations in the private sector, religious community and those do not meet their specifications and often engage in unfair competition. Piracy of broadcast material is rife.

Thus the bill "sets up a fundamental principle defining the typology of “éditeurs de services” (both private and public) and their areas of intervention and breaks these down into different definitions for public service, privately run, community and church organisations.”

According to Mutinga:”The broadcast companies that transmit without restriction offer all the same programs dominated by music, drama in Nigerian movies and pirated broadcasts. Not to mention the sour political debates sometimes carrying defamatory, abusive, deceptive and irresponsible comments." Also advertising is allowed to run without any limit on the number of minutes per hour.

It remains to be seen whether it is possible to create legislation governing the broadcast sector after the horse has bolted.

(source : Les Nouvelles des Jours)

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