There is broadcasting news from Fiji.
Broadcasters in Fiji answer to the watchdog authority, named the Fiji Media Council (http://www.fijimediacouncil.com) but that could all change.
But first let me re-emphasise, the Fiji Media Council is a pinnacle of media independence, which is comprised of its FIVE stated principles:
- To Enhance the media's image; - To Safeguard the Media's Independence; - To Uphold Freedom of speech and expression; - To promote a Code of Ethics and Practice for Journalists and Media organisations; - To Promote an independent and effective Complaints Committee.
Digital broadcasters Vendor News has been informed by 'Reporters without borders' / 'Reporters sans frontières' that a bill currently before the Fijian parliament for the creation of a Broadcast Licensing Authority would replace the autonomous Fiji Media Council and give the government of Fiji a way to control the news media.
"By replacing the existing regulatory body, the Fiji Media Council, by a new entity whose members who would all be named by the information ministry, the government is trying to equip itself with a mechanism for controlling the media," Reporters without borders / Reporters sans frontières states.
"The management of broadcast licences should not be entrusted to an offshoot of the government," Reporters Without Borders continued. "We call for a revision of the bill to ensure that the media regulatory body is independent of the government."
According to the bill currently before a parliamentary select committee, the information minister would appoint all six members of the proposed Broadcast Licensing Authority, which would have the power to assign and withdraw broadcast licences, a role currently played by the independent Fiji Media Council. The proposed BLA would also have a say as regards programme content.
The Fijian media, which for the most part did not get a copy of the bill until a few days before its submission to parliament, has condemned the government's failure to consult them. An editorial in the Fiji Sun on 24 August called it a "gagging tool."
The Fiji Government says through Simione Kaitani who chairs the parliamentary select committee that is currently examining the bill, that the proposed authority was needed 'to ensure the independence of Fiji's media'.
Kaitani called on the public to support it.
Is it a co-incidence that if you go to the home page of the Fiji Media Council's web site and click on the link to access the Fiji Media Council Forum, that the forum page http:// www.fijimediacouncil.com/forum.html is not to be found. A 404 page pops up instead. That means there is no such page on the Fiji Media Council server or it has been deleted or turned off?
Fiji is a small Commonwealth country in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a small population.
According to the Fiji Media Council web site, present members include:
A chairman and executive secretary and a representative from each of: Ministry of Information, Communications & Media Relations; Sun (Fiji) News Ltd; USP School of Journalism; Communications Fiji Ltd; Islands Business International Ltd; Fiji Times Ltd; Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Ltd; Fiji Television Ltd
Is seems from this list that the Council members are already taking care of their own interests!