Media Services bill tabled

THE government has tabled in Parliament the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2023 for its first reading which seeks to amend eight different legislations, among them, the Media Services Act in a move aimed at absorbing various legal challenges observed during its implementation.

The amendments were tabled in the House yesterday by the office of the Clerk of the National Assembly just a few minutes before the 10th parliamentary session was adjourned.

Apart from proposing amendments in the much awaited Media Services Act, the tabled draft further proposes amending the Architects and Quantity Surveyors (Registration) Act, the Medical Stores Department Act and the National Leaders Funeral Act.

Others are the Railways Act, The Tanzania Forestry Research Institute Act, the Treasury Registrar (Powers and Functions) Act and the Value Added Tax Act.

Of all these laws lined up for amendments, all eyes and ears remain attentive on the Media Services Act which has drawn much attention from a section of stakeholders including members of the media fraternity.

There was a public discontent on Tuesday when the Director of Information Services and Chief Government Spokesperson, Mr Gerson Msigwa, announced that the long-awaited amendments of the Media Services Act of 2016 had been pushed forward to the forthcoming budget session of the National Assembly slated to start in April, this year.

The suspension triggered complaints from the Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) on why the delay was necessary in the amendment process.

However, when addressing the media in Dodoma, on Thursday, the Minister of Information, Communications and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye neutralised pressure saying the amendments would be tabled yesterday.

At a news conference Mr Nnauye urged stakeholders to continue having faith in the government, especially on the process of amending the provisions of the Act.

He added that in ensuring freedom of information and expression, the sixth phase government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan has spared no effort in improving relations with the Media as well as ensuring freedom of expression.

“President Samia has made a lot of efforts to improve the media sector including meeting with media stakeholders and discussing the challenges of the media law and advising them to propose amendments to the law,” he added.

Last year Mr Nnauye announced that the government is planning to amend the Media Services Act as part of its efforts to uphold the welfare of journalists and the media industry at large.

He added: “The aim for the amendments is to provide a conducive working environment for journalists through which their freedom and rights will be promoted and protected.”

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