Rwanda Govt Allows Self Media Regulation

Regulation & Policy

In Kigali, after over two years of deliberations and lobbying in the corridors of power to push through media reforms, a long legislative procedure finally came to a close on March 11, 2013 and the victory was for the press.

Three important bills that sought to reform media rules in Rwanda were finally signed into law in a legislative act seen as a positive concession for a more open and democratic government.

The new legislations include Law N'02/2013  of 08/02/2013 regarding Media regulation and comes as a reform to the older Law N' 22/2009 of 12/08/2009.

The other is Law N'03/2013 of 08/02/2013 which determines new onuses, organization and functioning of the media high council (MHC), a government agency hitherto charged with the regulation and licensing of the media in Rwanda.

The third is law N° 04/2013 OF 08/02/2013 relating to access to information that enables the public and journalists to access information possessed by public organs and some private bodies.

According to Ignatius Kabagambe, the Media Development Project Coordinator at Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) the new media law grants 100% Self Regulation of especially the Print media, a landmark concession."It's now up to them {the media} to make rules that control them," said Kabagambe. However, this total self- rule doesn't apply for broadcast media.

While the law grants 100% self regulation to print media, electronic media (Audio, audio-visual and internet) will be regulated by Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Agency (RURA).

"This is because of the nature of the broadcast industry; our role will be to ensure quality control, proper signal usage and fair competition in the industry," said Regis Gatarayiha, RURA Director General.

The new law also bans the previous practice which required publishers to submit a mandatory copy of their newspapers to the office of the government prosecutor and other offices, a regulation which wasn't heeded by many but now under the new law, those offices can buy their own copies.