THE vetting process for media actors and professionals to feature in the professional body per the Media Services Act, 2016 is currently underway, the government has announced.
Speaking here, Information, Culture, Arts and Sports Minister Innocent Bashungwa, revealed that the government was scrutinising names and faces of individuals, who would feature in Journalists Accreditation Board.
The minister, who was representing President Samia Suluhu Hassan on World Press Freedom day, said the government had started sorting out names of media professionals to be slotted into the board.
“Much as the act provides for the establishment of the board, we are currently vetting for who and who to feature in it,” the minister explained.
The Media Service Act, number 12 of 2016, was enacted with provisions for promotion of professionalism in the media industry, for establishment of the Journalists Accreditation Board, Independent Media Council and framework for regulation of media services and for other related matters.
Among other things, the Act which comes into effect later this year, establishes the post of Director of Information Services, to be appointed by the President of Tanzania and be the chief advisor and spokesman for the government on strategic communication, news publication, and the functioning of the media industry.
In the same vein, Mr Bashungwa assured Media practitioners gathered at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) that the government valued the access to information concept, further pledging that it will continue to work closely with the fourth estate in bridging the gap with the citizenry.
“We guarantee you a peaceful working environment, both in the mainland and the isles, we are not here to muzzle the media as it is widely perceived,” he said.
Equally, the minister insisted on conducting dialogues with owners of media houses, in a bid to resolve disputes pitting the government and the media outlets.
Mr Bashungwa also challenged the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) to join forces with other UN agencies in empowering Media practitioners to disseminate prerequisite information to the public on Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).
He further commended the UN agency for issuing over 400m/- to support 16 community radios in the country.
Earlier on, the agency’s Head of Office and Representative to Tanzania Tirso Dos Santos said the country counted on the Media to drive forward an innovative and transformative agenda.
“A free pluralist media is essential in achieving this course where journalists need to be responsible rather than destructive,” he posed.
World Press Freedom day acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme “Information as a Public Good” serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism and to advance transparency and empowerment, while leaving no one behind.
Nationally, the day was marked in Arusha with key players in the industry convening to take stock of what they had achieved and endured in the line of duty.