Rwanda: Parliament Adopts New Media Bill

Regulation & Policy

The Lower Chamber of Parliament yesterday unanimously passed the law governing the media after agreeing to all amendments made by a joint ad hoc committee.

Media practitioners' watched expectantly from the public gallery of the Kimihurura-based parliament, as the lawmakers calmly voted for the motion endorsing the media bill from the first article to the last.

"The law we are going to endorse has taken so long we are going to make our final decision because media practitioners and the government have for long waited for this law," Speaker Rose Mukantabana, told the lawmakers before they started casting their votes.

The law was voted unanimously by the lawmakers by calling their names and according to Bernadette Kanzayire, the chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on political affairs, all articles in the bill were thoroughly studied in various consultations.

Kanzayire was also heading the ad hoc committee between lawmakers from both houses that had earlier been put in place to scrutinise the proposed amendments in the bill made by the upper chamber.

Among the provisions in the Act is the article that will compel all print media outlets to indicate on each copy, the number of copies to be printed and distributed for that particular edition. The Media High Council is responsible for enforcing this provision.

"Most of the articles are good, but I am worried some articles will give us limitations on access to information," a local journalist who preferred to remain anonymous said after parliament endorsed the bill.

The law will also compel sources to reveal information and sets fines for contravention that range from Rwf 100,000 to 300,000.

Meanwhile, it was agreed in the ad hoc committee that the amount of money required as start-up capital to set up a media house would be determined by a ministerial decree. In the draft bill forwarded by government to parliament, it had been proposed that any investor who wants to set up a print media outlet was required to have at least Rwf 6m as capital while radio stations and televisions were expected to have start-up capital of Rwf 50million and 100million respectively.

The New Times