21 Sep 2006

Fiji cabinet pulls Media Bill from parliament

2:44 pm on 21 September 2006

Fiji's Broadcasting Licensing Bill has been pulled out of the current session of parliament because it is going back to cabinet.

This is despite a statement by the information minister, Isireli Leweniqila, last week that criticism of the Bill was baseless and that it had followed all normal parliamentary procedures.

Radio Legend reports that the Bill has been referred back to cabinet by the government caucus after it considered public submissions on the proposed legislation.

The radio says that while Mr Leweniqila tabled some changes to the Bill in the House yesterday, it understands the cabinet will make major amendments.

The Fiji media have welcomed the step taken by the government.

The Fiji Media Council chairman, Daryl Tarte, says he is delighted by the move because there was great concern that there had not been any proper consultations before the Bill was formulated.

Mr Tarte says he hopes major amendments will be made by the cabinet.

The managing director of Communications Fiji Limited, William Parkinson, says he welcomes proposed changes in the membership of the Broadcasting Licensing Authority.

But Mr Parkinson says what remains of major concern is the government's proposal to control broadcasting and advertising standards.

Meanwhile there are claims that the leader of the Fiji Labour Party wanted the bill pushed through parliament.

The party's Vice President, Krishna Datt, says he believes Mahendra Chaudhry supports the bill in its current form.

Mr Datt says he asked Mr Chaudhry at a recent caucus meeting what his stance was on the bill.

"I think he supported it as it is. I think he wanted it to go through the house, this time around."

Mr Datt would not be drawn on what the party's stance on the bill is.