7 Apr 2010

Provisions in draft Fiji Media Decree unusual, says media law expert

10:03 pm on 7 April 2010

Fiji's proposed Media Decree would ban the ownership of a news organisation by other than a Fiji citizen.

The draft decree that was made available yesterday shortly before the first consultation also allows for organisations to be fined up to half a million Fiji dollars.

Publishers, editors or journalists could face a fine of up to 100,000 Fiji dollars and up to five years in jail for breaches of the decree's provisions.

A media law expert at Canterbury University, Ursula Cheer, says the proposed rules over who can own media organisations are unusual:

"I don't think there are many Western democracies elsewhere that are forcing parties to divest themsleves of ownership or part ownership if they don't meet the ownership requirements, in this case having to be a permanent resident in Fiji."

Ursula Cheer says the draft decree doesn't mention freedom of expression but appears to foucs on exerting control.