12 Sep 2006

Consultation over Fiji's broadcasting licensing bill a waste of time - says media groups

7:50 am on 12 September 2006

Fiji's media organisations have expressed outrage after the parliamentary committee scrutinizing the government's Broadcasting Licensing Bill tabled its report in parliament yesterday.

The committee chairman and former information minister, Simione Kaitani, told the House that the Bill was necessary to improve programming and advertising standards.

Mr Kaitani said the Fiji Media Council was not the answer and claimed there was conflict of interest in its membership.

But media organisations have reacted strongly, saying consultation held over the Broadcasting Licensing Bill were a waste of time because the committee ignored the media's plea to be kept free and independent.

The Fiji Times quotes Communications Fiji Limited managing director William Parkinson as saying the changes in the Bill were minor and cosmetic.

Mr Parkinson says one of the roles of the media is to hold politicians accountable, but with the Bill politicians want to make the broadcast media accountable to them and have the power to jail broadcasters.

The publisher of the Fiji Times, Tony Yianni, says it is disappointing the committee could not understand what many of the submissions pointed out - that the Bill breached Fiji's constitution.

My Yianni says this is poor law and will be thrown out.