The Ministry of Information and Media has welcomed the launch of the Media Association for Pure Self-Regulation (MAPSR) regulation framework, an initiative that seeks to empower media practitioners to manage their own affairs. The Ministry commends all stakeholders involved in the process of developing the framework, which will provide a platform for media practitioners to self-regulate their industry.
The Ministry of Information and Media oversees the affairs of journalists and public relations practitioners in the country, and in 2021, when the UPND Alliance formed government, the Ministry gave an opportunity for these professionals to make proposals on how they wanted to operate under the new administration. Both groups of professionals intimated that they wanted to be empowered by law to manage their own affairs, similar to other professionals like lawyers, engineers, and doctors. Consequently, both the journalists and the public relations practitioners submitted draft Bills to the Ministry for the purpose of being facilitated to establish statutory self-regulatory mechanisms.
The Ministry is glad to report that on 9th August 2022, the President of the Republic of Zambia assented to the Zambia Institute of Public Relations and Communication Act No.11 of 2022, empowering public relations and communication practitioners in Zambia to manage their affairs independently of the government. However, the draft Bill submitted by the journalists faced some setbacks as an association of media owners raised concerns that certain clauses in the Bill were inimical to their interests. A mediation meeting was called by the Ministry, and it emerged that the document cited by the media owners was not the document that was before the Ministry of Justice.
After the meeting was adjourned, the Ministry received information that the media owners and various interest groups were setting up a pure self-regulation framework. The Ministry received a letter from the journalists indicating that since the media owners and the other interest groups had formed their own framework, the Ministry should proceed to unlock the process that had been frozen. The Ministry views the MAPSR framework established by the media owners and associated interest groups as a non-governmental organization (NGO) and appreciates that the government does not establish NGOs but collaborates with them. The Ministry is, therefore, happy and ready to work with MAPSR on matters of mutual interest.
The Ministry wishes to clear the misconception that it is opposed to self-regulation and contradicting the position of the President and that of the Minister of Information and Media. The Ministry’s position is that the government does not set up non-governmental organizations but sets up statutory bodies and provides administrative support to stakeholders that want information and media-related regulatory frameworks backed by law.
The launch of the MAPSR regulation framework is a step in the right direction towards self-regulation in the media industry. The Ministry of Information and Media is ready to work with MAPSR on matters of mutual interest, and it is important that all stakeholders collaborate to ensure the smooth implementation of the framework. The government’s support for statutory self-regulatory mechanisms remains unwavering, and the Ministry is committed to providing the necessary administrative support to stakeholders in the information and media industry.