Monday, May 17, 2021

BNSC directive has all the trimmings to muzzle media

The Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) has moved to mute the sports media from witnessing and writing about the internal wrangles of its affiliates during their meetings.

With as many of its affiliates having had a difficult time putting the lid on tempers during their meetings, which have always been open to the media, the commission has now issued a directive to bar the media from sitting in on national federations’ meetings.

The directive, which came on the eve of the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) elective Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was held on the 4th of March, stipulates that the media is only allowed to cover sports federations’ official openings only.

It further states that: “Where substantive issues are discussed, the media should be excused so as to allow members of the sport association to discuss issues without fear of negative publicity.”

“It has been observed that in some instances, the media reports portray leaders of sport as people who cannot account for their actions. This is not good for development and promotion as it has great potential to scare away potential ones,” so reads the directive.

Reached to comment on the matter, the BNSC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Falcon Sedimo, said the decision “is meant to afford national sports associations an opportunity to discuss internal issues all by themselves and contain the spread of information” with a view to “publicise only what has been agreed upon”.

Responding from a questionnaire from Sunday Standard Sport, Sedimo denied that the move was meant to gag the media, saying national associations will be at liberty to issue communiqu├®s or press releases to the media to inform them on what was agreed upon at meetings.

According to the BNSC CEO, the decision was taken to ensure federations protect their images. “Every organisation has a responsibility to protect its image. The sport fraternity is not different,” he said.

“Sport politics is part and parcel of sport organisations, therefore, whether the media attends or does not, the politics of sport will always be there,” he said when quizzed on whether BNSC was not fixing the media rather than addressing the real problems affecting local sports.

“For your information, the BNSC has always been and will always be endeavoured to address issues at national associations’ level,” he continued.

According to Sedimo, the restriction will also apply to the commission’s own annual general meetings.

“It has always been a common practice to allow media to cover only the opening ceremony at BNSC meetings. The practice still stands,” he said.

Sedimo said as such, the media will be expected to only attend the official opening part and “perhaps even at the end to be appraised of the outcome of the deliberations”.

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