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Pina Voices Concern Over Fiji Media Bill

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SUVA (Pacnews/IFEX/Pacific Media Watch): Strong protests from Fiji’s local media against the proposed Broadcast Licensing Bill has attracted concern from the region’s main media organisation, the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

PINA has made a submission to the parliamentary select committee on behalf of its members in Fiji.

The bill calls for the establishment of a licensing authority whose five members would be appointed by the minister for information. The authority would have powers to control both radio and television programming, advertising and technical codes.

"Taken as a group, they are sweeping controls that would have a remarkably harmful effect on broadcast media in Fiji and as a consequence on media freedom in the country," said Ken Clark, president of PINA.

Under the proposed bill, the minister alone has the powers to appoint members of the authority, powers to formulate policy and give policy directions without necessarily consulting his own ministry.

Another role of the Broadcast Licensing Authority would be to develop an advertising and programming code for broadcasters.

"These codes already exist and work well under the Media Council of Fiji's administration," PINA argued.

"These proposed regulations would fly directly in the face of the necessary business activities of Fiji broadcasters.

"PINA fails to understand why the bill would impose restrictions on the content of advertising," Clark said.

Instead, Clark said the Fiji government should strengthen the Fiji Media Council system, and require all broadcasters to become members of the council along with other media.




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