Media Law Approved, but Needs More Changes: Assembly


National Assembly (NA) members have called for media outlets, individuals and entities that operate within the industry to be more clearly defined by law to ensure the media contributes positively to national protection and development.

Members highlighted these points when debating a draft amendment to the Media Law on Friday.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism decided to amend the law after it was first promulgated in 2008.

The amendment, which was drafted by the ministry, was approved by 93 of the 103 Assembly members who voted on the draft. Nine members did not approve the draft, and one was present but did not participate in the vote.

NA members wanted the drafting sub-committee to further amend several points.

NA member for Luang Prabang province, Dr Sinnava Souphanouvong, said he wanted the law to more clearly define the individuals and legal entities that are authorised to participate in media activities.

He suggested that people under the age of 18, former prisoners, people with mental health issues, groups, enterprises and organisations prohibited by law, foreigners and individuals who do not hold citizenship or permanent resident status in Laos should not be permitted to own or operate a media business in Laos.

Article 65 of the amendment refers to the activities of foreign media, diplomatic representatives, and international organisations in Laos.

Dr Sinnava also wanted the proportion of capital provided by foreigners for co-funding media outlets to be restricted to a maximum of 20 percent.

Under the law, the media is charged with being a source of truth, education, guidance, and struggle. Another NA member for Luang Prabang province, Mr Thongchanh Manixay, said he wanted the media to provide information in a more scientific way and said this should be its fifth main characteristic.

I suggest this to prevent media outlets from leading audiences and the public towards superstitious thinking, Mr Thongchanh said.

Assembly members said it should be compulsory for reporters to know a foreign language such as English, and called for the law to stipulate this.

The law states that Lao citizens have the freedom to express their opinions and give their views on the policies, laws, socio-economic development plans, and budgets devised by the government, as well as their implementation.

According to the law, Lao people also have the freedom to express their views on situations in Laos and overseas, and to constructively criticise individuals and organisations.

Freedom is also offered to Lao people in accessing information about situations within the country and overseas, and receiving education and entertainment from the media.


Source: Vientiane Times