Rwanda's Lower Chamber of Parliament has unanimously passed the law governing the media after agreeing to all amendments made by a joint ad hoc committee, writes Robert Mugabe in The New Times.

Media practitioners’ watched expectantly from the public gallery of the Kimihurura-based parliament, as the lawmakers calmly voted for the motion endorsing the media bill from the first article to the last.

“The law we are going to endorse has taken so long  we are going to make our final decision because media practitioners and the government have for long waited for this law,” Speaker Rose Mukantabana, told the lawmakers before they started casting their votes.

Among the provisions in the Act is the article that will compel all print media outlets to indicate on each copy, the number of copies to be printed and distributed for that particular edition. The Media High Council is responsible for enforcing this provision.

“Most of the articles are good, but I am worried some articles will give us limitations on access to information,” a local journalist who preferred to remain anonymous said after parliament endorsed the bill.

The law will also compel sources to reveal information and sets fines for contravention that range from Rwf 100,000 to 300,000.

Meanwhile, it was agreed in the ad hoc committee that the amount of money required as start-up capital to set up a media house would be determined by a ministerial decree.

In the draft bill forwarded by government to parliament, it had been proposed that any investor who wants to set up a print media outlet was required to have at least Rwf 6m as capital while radio stations and televisions were expected to have start-up capital of Rwf 50million and 100million respectively.

Click here to read the full report, posted in The New Times.