By Mary Karugaba
The Government has instituted new fees for journalists, and revised the journalism code of ethics.
According to the new regulations issued by the Information and National guidance minister, Rose Namayanja, in a statutory instrument entitled the Press and Journalist (fees) Regulations, 2014, journalists will be required to pay sh200,000 for a practicing certificate and sh100,000 for re-newing the certificate every year.
The changes gazetted in February 2014 have not been formally communicated to the media houses or journalists.
Although the statutory instrument seeks to amend the First Schedule of the Press and Journalist Act of 1997, that deals with the professional ethics, it is instead stated that it was amending the Fourth Schedule that provides for the meetings of the Media Council. The instrument came into effect on February 10, 2014.
Statutory Instruments (SIs) are a form of legislation which allows the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.
The new regulations require journalists to pay sh5,000 as application for enrolment and sh30,000 for a certificate of enrolment. Furthermore, to have his certificate entered on the register of journalists, the journalist will have to pay sh50,000.
The instrument imposes fees ifor foreign journalists seeking accreditation. The regulations also stipulate fees for lodging a complaint before the Media Council, ruling by committee and certification of committee proceedings. It also outlines fees for local and foreign produced films, video material, plays and related apparatuses. The Act does not specify the amount that one must pay.
New Vision’s efforts to get a comment from Namayanja yesterday were unsuccessful. The Director for Information and National Guidance Simon Mayende, however, referred the New Vision to Pius Muinganisa, who was also not accessible by phone.
The second instrument gazetted effected changes to the journalists’ code of ethics. The new statutory instruments incorporate the provisions of the existing code of ethics, but expands it to cater for harassment, obscene publications and reporting on children.
It obliges journalists or editors to respect the constitutional right to privacy of home, correspondence, communication or other property enshrined in the Constitution. It defines a private place as a public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Journalists are barred from engaging in intimidation, harassment or corrupt tendencies.
“It is unacceptable for a journalist or editor to unreasonably persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing a person who has asked the journalist or editor to desist from such acts,” the regulation states.
The new regulations state that journalists and editors must not publish obscene material including writings, drawings, prints, paintings, printed matter, pictures, posters, emblems, photographs, cinematography films or any other obscene objects or objects that tend to corrupt morals.
The new regulations also prohibit the publication of stories, pictures or information that seeks to glamourise crime in general. The regulations prohibits journalists from interviewing or taking a child’s photograph while at school.