By Johannes Hangula
THE Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) held the second public consultative meeting pertaining to the proposed code of conduct for broadcasting service licensees. The meeting aimed to provide stakeholders an opportunity to study the revised Broadcasting Code and to provide comments.
The Proposed Broadcasting Code is formulated in terms of the Communications Act to ensure the independent regulation of broadcasting services, access to broadcasting services, and broadcasting content in the public’s interest. Secondly, to ensure the provisions aimed at attaining availability of local content, commitment to public debate and discussions and to promote transparency and accountability.
Speaking at the public hearing, CRAN CEO, Festus Mbandeka said the organisation decided to formulate the code, as it found the current self-regulation efforts not being sufficient in the scope and applicability to satisfy the objects of Section 89 of the Communications Act. Mbandeka added that the broadcasting code is applicable to all media houses that will produce and air audio and/or visual media for broadcast to the public.
Mbandeka appealed to broadcasting service licensees to ensure that all relevant employees and suppliers from whom content is acquired understand and comply with the code in order to conform to the provisions of the Communications Act.
The code will be applicable to all commercial, community and the public broadcaster (Namibian Broadcasting Corporation) television and radio broadcasting. It further prescribes special duties for broadcasters during national, regional and local elections campaigns in Namibia, contains provisions relating to freedom of expression, protection of privacy, hate speech, equality and discrimination which are all essential for the provision of broadcasting services in a democratic society. The Broadcasting Code prescribes duties relating to the coverage of news and current affairs in order to ensure that the news coverage by broadcasters is fair, objective and impartial. The protection of children is highlighted in the broadcasting code with the aim that children are not to be exposed to harmful broadcast content and are not harmed physically or morally, by restricting violence, sexual portrayal and bad language.
The code therefore makes provision for warnings to precede programmes which are not suitable for children and rate programmes accordingly. The code further ensures that broadcast material does not glamourise violence or unlawful conduct, consider matters involving the privacy, dignity and reputation of also have the opportunity to provide written submissions on proposed individuals.
The rule-making process allows for a consultative, interactive platform for stakeholders to provide their views, opinions and oral comments on proposed regulations. All written comments pertaining to the broadcasting code should be sent to CRAN by September 20.
Mbandeka said the finalised Broadcasting Code will be published in due course after the authority has fully considered all written and oral submissions.
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