WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY – 3RD MAY
An NFP Government will repeal the Media Industry Development Decree because we believe the media should not be regulated in any way by the State or any Government.
An NFP Government will also: -
1. Ensure taxpayer funds are justifiably used by spreading advertisements by Government and Statutory organisations across all media outlets and end the exclusivity enjoyed by one newspaper as is currently the case 2. Ensure funding for Public Service Broadcast for all mainstream broadcast and television media and not exclusive to Fiji Broadcasting Commission 3. Ensure Fiji Airways provides both daily newspapers to its passengers instead of providing only Fiji Sun
NFP upholds and promotes media freedom at all times despite falling victim to biased and unfair reporting by some media outlets. We do not blame the journalists but those leading those organisations using exclusive access to taxpayer’s funds to trumpet only Government’s view.
As we observe World Press Freedom Day tomorrow (3rd May), we also remember Individual journalists who were either removed, or re-assigned other duties when they tried to uphold media ethics.
In this regard we once again call upon Fiji Television Limited to reinstate journalist Shanal Sivan to the Fiji TV newsroom. Mr Sivan was removed from the Fiji TV newsroom by the Group CEO of Fijian Holdings Limited for amplifying the voice of ordinary citizens who expressed their disappointment over Government’s broken promises.
This is the kind of State interference in newsrooms through management of news organisations that has seen Fiji ranked the lowest of Pacific Island nations of Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea, in a recent report released by Reporters Without Borders. Generally, the media industry in this country has been under siege since the military coup of December 2006. The last 8 years, especially after the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution on 10th April 2009, have been turbulent and devastating for journalists and the media industry.
While the promulgation of the Media Industry Development Decree in 2010 ended State’s presence in the newsrooms and direct censorship, self-censorship is being practiced in most newsrooms with journalists awaiting responses from Government before publishing and broadcasting any statement by the Opposition.
Only cosmetic changes were made to the Decree in July 2015 with fines against journalists removed but heavy penalties against Editors, Publishers and the media organisations remain like a noose around one’s neck.
Media throughout the world is generally regarded as the Fourth Estate – the last line of defenders of democracy, human rights, dignity and justice.
Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through the media regardless of frontiers”.
This freedom and right is reposed in the people, which the State and politicians must respect at all times. The Media Industry Development Decree is regressive and suppresses Media Freedom.
A free, fair and unregulated media is absolutely vital for true and genuine democracy as well to amplify the voices of not only Government but also the Opposition, without fear.
Professor Biman Prasad