A press that gets financed by government will always be shifting its allegiance to whoever takes over power and this is not a good thing- DRC President Felix Tshisekedi told Congolese media on Thursday.
The Congolese President spoke on press assistance on Thursday during a press conference in Goma. He was responding to question about the government’s support for the media system. Tshisekedi’s response was not precise, but quite revealing of his state of mind on the subject.
“This is a big debate; I was earlier in favour of providing possibilities for the press access to credit so that it can organize itself. If the state-regulator begins to support it, the press will adapt to changing circumstances depending on who comes to power. I am not a great supporter of this principle, but I am in favor of the press being in full possession of its means to develop,” Tshisekedi argued.
According to him, maybe to help press by organizing forums or seminars with other media around the world to upgrade itself.
“I am for debates on the very meaning of the media. Today, anyone calls themselves the press. All he needs to do is have a cell phone and he’ll start speaking, typing on anything that moves. Ethics and professional conduct are no longer taken into account. It becomes nonsense. Rather, this is what I will help you do instead of bringing you a fish, I will help you learn to fish,” President Tshisekedi noted.
Presenting his views, Kasonga Tshilunde the head of the National Union of the National Press of Congo (UNPC), said that there was a need to update the legal framework for the exercise of journalism in the DRC.
“We must also decriminalize press offenses, protect journalists and punish all those who abuse their power to muzzle the press. It is also necessary to modify the penal code which makes journalistic information defamation. The public authorities must also release direct and indirect aid as well as the legal advantages recognized for the press. Among the projects, it is necessary to tax tools and press consumables, to open general press stores, to install a national printing press, to regulate online, social, school, community media, ” Kasonga said.
The law fixing the modalities of the exercise of the freedom of the press (1996) informs that the State can grant an indirect aid to the private companies of press under preferential tariffs in the field of the imports of the materials necessary for the productions and the distribution of information.
It is also said that the public authorities can grant subsidies in the form of indirect aid to those of private companies which request it on condition that they devote 50% of their programs to cultural, educational and social programs.