28 Aug 2006

Fiji minister rules out changes to media bill

3:14 pm on 28 August 2006

Fiji's information minister insists there will be no changes to the government's Broadcasting Licensing Bill despite fierce opposition to its draconian provisions.

Isireli Leweniqila has told Radio Legend that he does not see anything wrong with the Bill.

Mr Leweniqila says there is no reason to change the section in which the minister appoints members of the Broadcasting Licensing Authority.

He says the government strongly believes that the appointments to the board by the minister will not lead to political influence.

But the chairman of the Fiji Media Council, Daryl Tarte, has said this is just a blatant move to control the broadcast media.

Mr Tarte said the Bill vests too much power in the information minister who is a political person and the Broadcast Authority would have to operate on government policies which are politically driven.

The Bill provides for a fine of 300-thousand US dollars and cancellation of the licence of any radio or television company found to be in breach of conditions of its licence.

Meanwhile, Mr Leweniqila also says no new licenses for radio and television stations will be issued until the new legislation comes into effect.