Media Authority ‘committed’ to freedom of expression

Media Authority ‘committed’ to freedom of expression

As the world commemorated the World Press Freedom Day earlier this month, the South Sudan Media Authority reiterated its commitment to protecting responsible journalism and freedom to access of information.

The highest media office says the negative perception of the world toward the country’s media industry is gradually changing with significant improvement in the media environment.

No journalists were incarcerated since the beginning of the year.

The Elijah Alier Kuai-led administration has repeatedly condemned assaults on journalists by rogue members of the national security forces with realisation that media freedom is essential for peace, democracy and development of a country.

“Media Authority as a bridge for building healthy relationships among media stakeholders remains committed to creating conducive media regulatory environment that promotes freedom of expression and media as a fundamental human right protected under Article 24 of the South Sudan Transitional Constitution 2011,” part of the statement extended to City Review read.

Significant reduction of ethnic-based hate speech through legally licensed media houses, according to the Media Authority, is an indication which points to the positive trajectory the industry is heading.

“Citizens are now able to express their views through different radio stations and newspapers,” it says, adding that the government institutions and media entities were now being “adequately” handled by the Authority.

A total of 163 media enterprises from different categories have been officially registered by the Media Authority to legally operate in the country.

More than 800 visiting foreign journalists from more than 65 countries working for 147 media agencies worldwide have continuously cleared and issued on-demand accreditation press cards for the period they intended to spend in the country to do journalistic work.

However, the authority has either denied or revoked the accreditation of over 20 foreign journalists, who were bent on tarnishing the image of the country by disseminating misleading and harmful information since 2017.

The Media Authority acknowledged the contributions of Journalists for Human Rights and the Edmund Yakani-led Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) for supporting media activities in the country.

While the authority says it has been monitoring media coverage on the Covid-19 pandemic, it appears that most local journalists remain vulnerable to the virus infection as majority cover the pandemic without protective gear.

South Sudan has an emerging media industry and many players in the market lack financial resources to promote pluralistic and professional media due to high operational cost. Poor pay of journalists has left most newsrooms with incompetent and underqualified reporters incapable to exercise comprehensive journalism.

The World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on May 3 every year to appreciate the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate press freedom around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.