Chief Zachee Nzoh-Ngandembou, CEO, Eden Media Group and member of National Press Card Award Commission.
Media aid to the private press should not only be maintained, but significantly increased. The private media performs the same function as the State media. Projecting government action, informing and educating the public, making inputs where it is necessary, calling government attention to specific issues that might have been inadvertently neglected or overlooked, amongst others. There is no one single public policy in which the private media is not involved in the process of informing, sensitisation and education.
Take whatever sector; the private media is playing a preponderant role; be it in health issues like the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, Avian Flu, etc. Look at the private sector’s commitment in the fight against Boko Haram menace. All of these issues are what the private media, just like their counterparts of the State-owned media, are fighting for. Take CRTV and Cameroon Tribune for instance, government gives almost 100 per cent subvention, then why should the government not support the other side? We cannot afford to neglect the private sector. Just like government is doing everything to provide incentives for local businesses and investments, so it should do to the private press as well.
I strongly urge whoever is concerned not only to continue to give the aid to the private press, but increase it five-fold. We must appreciate what government has done so far but at the same time ask for more. A lot more should be done irrespective of the current tilt of resources in combating Boko Haram. In many Francophone countries like Gabon, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, the State continues to support the private media.
This doesn’t cancel the fact that the government should also alleviate the sufferings of the private media by removing taxes for instance for printing material. I think this is what we should do. Whether government should continue to give cash or subsidise printing material, I think the two things should go together.