THE Editors' Forum of Namibia (EFN) has expressed concern that although Namibia continues to fare very well in Africa and the world in terms of press freedom, elements of harassment and regulation could threaten the status quo.
by Adam Hartman
EFN chairman Joseph Ailonga said during the forum’s annual general meeting last Friday that Namibia still ranks number one in Africa, and has moved up one spot in the world from 17th to 16th position.
But this position might be under threat after the incident with the Japanese news crew, who had their equipment confiscated by security agents at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA).
In April, police questioned and later released two Japanese journalists at the HKIA near Windhoek for allegedly carrying equipment which could endanger national security.
David Bush and Motoi Araki, who work for Japan’s biggest television group Asahi, were picked up just after interviewing deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah in the VIP lounge in connection with the munitions factory being built by North Koreans in Namibia.
“This incident not only threatens the rankings, but also indicates that government is wary of the media as a whole. Namibian or international journalists should at all times operate within Namibian borders without fear or favour, and should not be subjected to harassment,” stressed Ailonga.
“We are happy that there are government performance agreements, and this must be scrutinised properly to ensure that they are met. We express excitement at the Harambee Prosperity Plan, as it not only promises a transparent government, but also prosperity for all. A transparent government means a free media environment, which we continue to maintain in Namibia and the world at large,” he added.
Another concern raised at the meeting was the self-regulatory mechanism and the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran’s) intended broadcasting code.
The EFN also met the Unesco head of the Windhoek Office, Jean-Pierre Ilboudo, who indicated that from Unesco’s point of view, this would tarnish the image of Namibia if Cran was to implement its broadcasting code, as self-regulation is a pivotal component of the UN.
Radio stations and television networks might soon be forced to air more local content if the proposed regulations for the code of conduct for broadcasting service licence holders are implemented.
Cran is pushing for all broadcasting networks in the country to produce at least 20% local content as part of its proposed code.
The code will also apply to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).
The authority currently does not regulate the national broadcaster.
The motivation by Cran for the code is to encourage the development of Namibian and African ideas’ expression by providing a wide range of programmes which reflect Namibian and African attitudes, opinions, ideas, values and artistic creativity by displaying local cultures and entertainment.
“There has been ongoing communication with Cran on the broadcasting code, but there is no feedback from Cran on our revised code of ethics yet. It is also evident that Cran wishes to continue with this code of ethics, and will be holding another consultative meeting soon.
“We would like to assure all our members that we will continue to fight for self-regulation, but all members must show their support by signing a declaration that they will adhere to the media code of ethics,” Ailonga noted.
by Adam Hartman
The Namibian (Namibia)