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Dear Friends of Botswana's Free and Dynamic Media
Welcome the website of the Botswana Media Consultative Council (BMCC). The BMCC is non-profit, non partisan, non-governmental organization registered in September 1998 as a trust under applicable domestic law. Our primary mission is to promote and preserve the further development of a multi-media industry in Botswana which is free, ethical, democratic, pluralistic and productive.

In our vision we recognize that Botswana will only realize its full economic, as well as democratic, potential if both its public and private sectors successfully embrace the political and social, as well as technological, challenges of the rapidly evolving global information age. The BMCC was established to help secure this goal by constituting itself as an institutionalized forum for media stakeholders to enter into constructive dialogue both among themselves and with the wider community, including government and regional organizations, on issues of common concern.

Since our public launch on 20 October 1998 the BMCC has grown to become Botswana's largest, as well as most diverse and inclusive, media NGO. By the end of April 1999 our membership incorporated over forty institutions and seventy individuals. On 8 April 1999 we held our inaugural General Meeting, during which our founding interim committee was replaced by an elected Board of Trustees. The new Board has committed itself to an expanded "media millennium" membership drive during the second half of 1999 to further assure that the BMCC becomes as fully incorporative as possible of Botswana's multi-media diversity.

The BMCC's formation was partially rooted in an appreciation of the success of the two ad hoc Media Consultative Forums, held in June and November of 1997, which for the first time in our country brought diverse media interests together. These fora succeeded in mobilizing widespread opposition to the proposed Mass Communications Bill of 1997, and support for the ultimately successful negotiation by a delegated private sector media policy task force of the Broadcasting Act of 1998.

The potential for establishing a permanent, Botswana based, organization that is structurally representative of diverse media sectors, that is Advertising, Broadcasting, Corporate Communications, New Information Technologies, and Visual Production, as well as Media Workers within both the Public and Private Print Media, become more apparent in April of 1998, as a result of the Botswana government's agreement to involve the media stakeholders in wider consultations at both Ministerial and new High Level Consultative Council levels.

The BMCC believes in the potential of a smart partnership based on open dialogue between the public and private sectors to enable Botswana to better meet the economic and social challenges of the coming millennium. We have joined hands with other media stakeholders in helping to establish the Media Advisory Council (MAC), which began its deliberations in February 1999.

The BMCC has also welcomed the opportunity to participate in sectoral consultations in such other areas as telecommunications policy and the 1999-2000 drafting of a SADC protocol for Culture, Information, and Sport.

Via the Media Advisory Council, the BMCC has submitted to government our proposed guidelines for a Freedom of Information Act. We have also called for the repeal of the Cinemotograph Act of 1972, which for decades has hampered the development of local visual media production, and the amendment or repeal of such other regressive legislation as the National Security Act of 1986, which gives the state potentially repressive power to penalize legitimate reporting, the Anthropological Act of 1967, which restricts research and limits access to information, and Section 59 of the Penal Code, which provides for penalties for causing public alarm.

The BMCC has also expressed its concern about the Economic Crimes and Corruption Act of 1994, which restricts both access and coverage of information related to ongoing police investigations into allegations of corruption. We have welcomed the Directorate of Economic Crime and Corruption's stated willingness to enter into a dialogue on this issue.

The BMCC further believes that it is the responsibility of private sector groups, in consultation with the wider community, to formulate and uphold ethical business standards through self-regulating codes of conduct. In this respect the BMCC has welcomed the establishment of the Botswana Association of Accredited Practitioners in Advertising BAAPA), as well as the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) affiliation of the Botswana Journalist Association (BOJA).

The BMCC further stands in solidarity with BOJA in supporting the rights of media workers to organize themselves for collective bargaining in accordance with the appropriate ILO conventions.

In the telecommunications sector the BMCC has welcomed ongoing initiatives to liberalize the market by opening it up to private sector services providers. We recognize that further development in this area is only possible in the context of an appreciation of the commercial implications of multi-media convergence. In this respect we believe that their need to be greater recognition on the part of public authorities that the existing division between information and broadcasting on one hand and telecommunications on the other has become an anachronism.
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