In response to requests from stakeholders, Government has agreed to extend to 28 February 2001 the deadline for public comment on its draft Position Paper on the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).
This extension will give stakeholders time for more thorough consultations with their constituents. Amongst those making the request were the Association of Marketers and the Freedom of Expression Institute.
The draft Position Paper has generated considerable interest, both in the media and in use of the MDDA website at www.gov.za, which had received almost 600 visits by yesterday. The launch last week was well-attended by a wide range of stakeholders, and press coverage has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Position Paper explores how freedom of expression and access to information, cornerstones of the country’s constitution, can be extended. It underlines the need to overcome historical imbalances so that the full diversity of South Africa’s voices can be heard and all citizens can be fully informed.
The paper proposes an independent statutory agency that will act as a catalyst towards broader changes in the media landscape, through its funding, facilitation, advocacy and research functions.
The Position Paper proposes that funding averaging R60m per year for the first five years be sourced equally from government, the media industry and donors. Thereafter the funding needs will be much reduced as the major backlog of past imbalances is overcome.
The MDDA was proposed by the Communication Task Team (Comtask) report of 1996. Cabinet adopted the proposal for an agency to assist the development of community media and to promote media diversity.
The paper is the result of extensive research and consultation with a range of stakeholders.
The new deadline of 28 February will also apply to the MDDA Discussion Forum, which can be accessed on www.gov.za, as can the Position Paper itself. Printed copies will be available at GCIS offices around the country from next week.
Dr Devan Pillay
Cell: 083 453 5544
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)