As announced yesterday, the African Media Barometer was launched today at the University of Mauritius by Oliver Dalichau of the FES (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung). There was a very small attendance but we hope that this will mark the first stage for wider dissemination of the report to all actors involved or interested in the Mauritian mediascape. Actually, hard copies of the report will be circulated with the members of parliament as we feel that it is important that they be sensitised to issues related to press freedom and regulation as decision-makers.
Soft copies will also be sent to prominent actors of the civil society, including NGO’s, associations and of course, the media. In fact, I am putting a copy online so everyone can get access to it. Please feel free to disseminate and, of course, to comment. I personally think that it is through discussions, dialogues, exchanges of ideas that we can progress collectively as a democratic society.
Also, as promised, here are some of the key findings of the AMB exercise which was conducted for the first time in Mauritius in August 2008. The next exercise will be done in 2010 in order to monitor progress made on the benchmarks.
In a nutshell, members of the panel (5 from the media and 5 from civil society) assessed the performance of Mauritius on the 4 main sectors as follows:
Sector 1: Protection and promotion of freedom of expression, including freedom of the media. Score: 2.7
Sector 2: Diversity, independence and sustainability of the media. Score: 2.9
Sector 3: Transparency and independence of broadcasting regulation whereby the state broadcaster is transformed into a truly public broadcaster. Score: 2.6
Sector 4: Levels of professional standards practiced by the media. Score: 3.0
Overall country score: 2.8
Note: The minimum score of 1 means the country does not meet the indicators and the maximum score of 5 means it meets all aspects consistently over time.
Areas which seem to warrant the most attention are:
– The nomination of members of regulation authorities for the audiovisual sector (which should be more transparent, open and should include civil society)
– The editorial independence of the MBC (and thus stop this silly lapdog attitude towards the government of the day and engage in real journalism to service the public, not politicians)
– The use of advertising placements by government in the media (which should not be used by governing parties to reward lapdogs and punish the others)
– The inactivity of press associations and civil society (which should all work towards promoting freedom of expression for all instead of their own vested interests)
– The lack of professional media associations and trade unions (can the journalists, columnists and chief editors stop bickering?)
So, what do we do from there? Well, let’s hope our politicians will read this report seriously and stop their silly antics against the press, that the media people will also stop engaging in silly wars against their own and not fall in the traps set by the politicians and that the population will start thinking in a mature and rational way and also use its power to shape the public debate.
Of course, comparatively speaking we are not so bad if we compare with many other countries of the developing or least developed world. But, we also have lots of room for improvement and we need to focus on making progress.
Here’s a copy of my presentation
and a copy of the 2008 AMB report for Mauritius
The report is also available on the website of the FES Madagascar at: http://www.fes-madagascar.org/pages/francais/publications.php