Thursday, September 24, 2020

Department of Broadcasting Services to appoint a Board of Directors

Although there is no legal requirement for it, the Department of Broadcasting Services is moving ahead to appoint a board of directors that will give broader direction to the management and professional staff.

This is part of efforts by the department to prove and show stakeholders that there is nothing to hide.

The move by the government department will also go a long way in allaying fears that the department is a political pawn used by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party to canvas political support and remain in power.

The Director of the Department, Bapasi Mphusu, told a workshop in Gaborone that a decision has already been taken by the parent ministry (Communications, Science and Technology) to appoint the board as one way of increasing both governance and opening up the decision making processes of the department.

The Department of Broadcasting Services has under its purview Botswana Television and two radio stations: Radio Botswana 1 & 2.

Mphusu said in addition to appointing a non executive board of directors, the department would henceforth subject their programmes to a rigorous evaluation exercise.

He said the evaluation would aim to ensure that the channels subscribe to Botswana?s cultural diversity while also paying particular attention to other aspects like entertainment.

He said although the department remains a strictly government entity, with no separate law governing it, there is proof that in essence they have become a public broadcaster ?except in name.?

He said when it comes to independence, the Department of Broadcasting Services in Botswana enjoys much more professional autonomy than its counterparts in most parts of the region.

This, he said, is in spite of the fact that elsewhere outside Botswana, such entities have dully become public broadcasters.

Mphusu defended his department, saying research after research had shown that the Department gives more coverage to opposition political parties, even though such parties insist the slant is towards the ruling party.

The workshop on National Stakeholders Conference on Public Service Broadcasting was called by the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

The workshop comes against a backdrop of increasing public demand for government to move towards turning its broadcasting departments into public broadcasters, directly accountable to the public through an independent board of directors.
The conference also comes in the wake of parliament?s decision to reject the Broadcasting Policy put before it by Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

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