MISA bemoans Cabinet decision to prioritise distribution of info, advertising to state-owned media
MISA Namibia is concerned about a recent Cabinet resolution (16th/20.09.16/007) that all government offices, agencies and ministries, including regional and local authorities, must prioritise the dissemination of information and advertisement through New Era Publication Corporation and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).
This Cabinet resolution is problematic because it limits access to important public information for those citizens who do not regularly access New Era and the NBC. It further affects independent media’s ability to provide timely and relevant information that is in the public’s interest.
The fact that government advertising will mainly be directed to these corporations, is also questionable. Both these corporations are publicly funded, thus the monopoly on government advertising would result in a situation where these public funds remain within the system. While those who fund the system, but do not access New Era or the NBC, are denied their right to access public information.
Government is also responsible for contributing to the growth of independent media in our democracy, withholding advertisement from these entities can result in the opposite. Independent media rely on advertising as its main source of income, while state-owned media is funded by the public. For this financial year, the NBC received N$252 million and New Era N$13,6. At this time, we do not have figures on how much government spends on advertising annually.
We urge Cabinet to reevaluate its decision because it not only negatively affects the public’s right to information, but it will also contribute to a decline in independent media’s sustainability.
Our admirable media freedom ratings and general free expression environment is a result of the diversity and independence of our media industry. It will be a sad day when government is a catalyst in its deterioration.
MISA is a regional non-governmental organisation with members in 11 of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries. Officially launched in September 1992, MISA focuses primarily on the need to promote free, independent and pluralistic media, as envisaged in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration.
National Director, MISA Namibia