Journalists mark World Press Freedom Day but the reality in Fiji is that the media is unable to perform their key role of being the messenger of truth because of draconian laws still in existence.
Remove decree Matilda Simmons: The Fiji Times. Wednesday, May 04, 2016
AS long as the Media Decree is in place, Fiji cannot say it has press freedom, said National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad as members of the local media marked World Press Freedom Day yesterday.
The decree, which was introduced in June 2010, enables the Fiji Media Industry Development Authority to enforce and investigate possible violations by local media outlets.
“It’s the rule of law — freedom of the media and the laws that govern that freedom must be open and transparent,” he said.
We don’t have that in Fiji because we have a Media Decree that puts water on all the efforts by the journalists and organisations to report accurately without fear or favour.
“So I think the focus of media freedom in Fiji is to pressure the Government to remove the decree because we can talk about media freedom for as long as we want, but the law that we have restricts this.”
Last year the National Federation Party leader had tabled a motion in the Fiji Parliament to remove or modify the decree but was defeated, 24-17.
Fijian Media Association General Secretary Stanley Simpson said it was prudent that the Government relook at certain provisions in the decree.
“The Fijian Media Association’s view is that we’ve always wanted to consistently engage with Government to remove certain provisions of Media Industry Development Decree, which we deem as excessive and could be abused by whichever government that comes into power,” said Simpson.
“Some aspects of the decree we have no problems with like the code of ethics which is similar to ours, but it’s the penalties and, in particular, the independence of the make-up of the tribunal authority. Those are two provisions we feel are a concern,” he adds.
Meanwhile, MIDA chairman Ashwin Raj, while speaking at a panel discussion at the Fiji National University yesterday, told the media fraternity that the issue was responsible reporting and urged local media to work closely with MIDA.
World Press Freedom Day celebrated by mainstream media organisations By: Sofaia Koroitanoa: FIJI ONE NEWS, 6PM Tuesday 3rd May, 2016
As today marked World Press Freedom day, representatives from mainstream media organizations came together to openly discuss issues relating to media freedom.
It was a chance for media personnel to clear the air on perceived restrictions and bias.
The discussion was part of the World Press Freedom day celebrations organized by the Fiji National University.
These media personnel had an open discussion about issues and challenges being faced in their respective newsrooms.
Students and academics of Fiji National University got to hear first hand from these professionals.
Speaking as Chief Guest, Communications Fiji Limited Managing Director William Parkinson highlighted the role of education in media freedom and the role of the media in engaging diverse views.
“I am concerned , I celebrate it with all of you the return of democracy in this country but I have to say I’m concerned at the way in which those views appeared to be shut out, rapid passage of legislations at the moment under the guise of urgency. I don’t think it’s appropriate and I speak as a citizen,” said William Parkinson, Managing Director CFL.
The event was organized by FNU’s College of Humanities & Education, School of Communication, Language and Literature, and the Department of Media and Journalism in collaboration with Pacific Islands News Association.