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18.02.2009 Business & Finance

Media training and capacity building on government's agenda


Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister-designate for Communications, said on Wednesday government was contemplating the establishment of a fund to be administered by the National Media Commission to train and build the capacity of journalists and media houses in general.

He said the media were the only arm of government that is made to fend for itself. The other arms of government - the legislature, the judiciary and the executive - are all supported in a way.

Mr Iddrisu said this when he gave his closing remarks at the opening of a Media Roundtable on the establishment of a fund called: "West Africa Media Development Fund" being established by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), a non-governmental organization with support from Free Voice, a Netherlands based organization devoted to the promotion of media development, pluralism and freedom.

The discussion brought together editors and managing editors of newspapers, radio stations and television networks across West Africa.

Mr Iddrisu said the idea of establishing a media development fund was morally imperative since it would contribute to the vibrancy in the media not only in Ghana but also across the sub-region.

He suggested that the MFWA also spoke to the ECOWAS Commission to get additional support since the media fund was a laudable.

Prof. Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of MFWA, said a major and critical factor to deal with in terms of media development was access to credit to help develop and grow viable media enterprises.

He said the absence of credit for the media had resulted in the limitation on advancement in professional and quality standards, erosion of editorial independence and susceptibility to political and other influences.

These handicaps constrain growth resulting in weakening public access to media, lack of capacity for legal defence against legal persecution and others.

"The threats to the survival and sustainability of the pluralist media industry pose severe dangers to the advancement and growth of democracy and hamper the media's effective role in promoting national development objectives," he said.

Prof. Karikari said economic threats were a common enemy to media development in Africa and there was the need for a major intervention to support economic viability and growth of the media in the sub-region.

"The principal objective is to seek ...your contribution to the realization of a business venture that aims at strengthening one of the central foundations of democracy and economic and social progress - that is media pluralism," he added.

Mr Bart Dijskra, Director, Free Voice, said his organization was committed to media development and was particularly conscious about the need to help media become independent financially.

"Free Voice aims at improving journalism in terms of quality reportage," he said.

Mr Dijskra said the fund was likely to start operating this year.

Mr Edetaen Ojo and Mr Kwame Kuffuor, Project coordinators for the West Africa Media Development Fund, presenting a feasibility study report to participants said surveys conducted showed that without donor support most media organizations would not be sustainable in a long term.