Draft media decree unveiled

Draft media decree unveiled

By fijivillage.com
Thursday 08/04/2010
The much talked about draft Media Industry Development Decree was unveiled to the stakeholders today which sees laws dealing with the establishment of a Media Industry Development Authority, a Media Tribunal, ownership of all Fiji media to be 90 percent locally owned and cross-media ownership in Fiji.

The draft decree also has a Media Code of Ethics and Practice, the Advertising Codes and a Television Programme Classification Code.

The draft Media Decree clearly states that every media organisation in Fiji should have 90 percent local ownership which means that 90 percent of shares of any media organisation in Fiji should be owned by citizens of Fiji permanently residing in Fiji.

10 percent of the media ownership can be foreign.

It also states that in the case of a company, all directors and in the case of any legal entity, partnership, and joint venture and of any individual shall respectively be citizens of Fiji permanently residing in Fiji.

Under the draft decree, "permanently residing" means a person residing in Fiji for 5 out of the last 7 years prior to registration of the media outlet and thereafter residing in Fiji for at least 9 out of 12 months of a year.

The draft Media Decree states that any person who does not fall within the class of persons described must resign or divest themselves of any directorship or ownership interest within three months from the commencement of the decree.

This raises a major issue for the Fiji Times newspaper which is totally foreign owned.

If the decree is implemented in it's current form, it means that current Fiji Times owners would have to sell off 90 percent of their shares to locals.
 
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who chaired the Media Decree consultations in Suva today has told Fijivillage that they have carefully considered the media ownership issue and find it necessary that controlling shares for media companies in Fiji should be held by locals.

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