30 Aug 2006

International media organisation attacks Fiji broadcasting bill

10:11 am on 30 August 2006

The international media freedom organisation, Reporters Without Borders, has attacked the Fiji government's Broadcasting Licensing Bill, saying it is just a means of controlling the media.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders says by replacing the existing regulatory body with one whose members are appointed by the information ministry, the government is equipping itself with a mechanism for controlling radio and television.

It says the management of broadcast licences should not be entrusted to an offshoot of the government and the Bill should be amended to ensure the regulatory body is independent of the government.

But the chairman of the parliamentary sector committee scrutinizing the Bill and former information minister, Simione Kaitani, has been quoted as saying the Bill is needed to ensure the independence of the media.

And the current minister, Isireli Leweniqila, says there will be no changes to the Bill because he does not see anything wrong with it.