Politicians and public officials should refrain from taking action that undermines the independence of the media – CCF
The govt should have no involvement in the news media – Dr Singh

Politicians and public officials should refrain from taking action that undermines the independence of the media – CCF

The govt should have no involvement in the news media – Dr Singh

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 24/03/2023
From left to right: Dr Shailendra Singh of USP, Milika Ligabalavu of CCF, Releshni Karan of the UN and Nilesh Lal of Dialogue Fiji

Citizens Constitutional Forum Legal Officer Milika Ligabalavu says politicians and public officials should refrain from taking action that undermines the independence of the media.

Ligabalavu says this includes interfering politically in the operations or taking commercial control over regulatory bodies of commercial or community or public service media or putting pressure on online platforms to engage in content regulation.

Dialogue Fiji Director, Nilesh Lal says the cross media ownership provision in the Media Industry Development Act created a lopsided environment where the state broadcaster has a major undue advantage and they need to make things fairer for the private players in the media market.

While opposing the draft Media Bill, the Head of USP’s School of Journalism, Doctor Shailendra Singh says the government should have no involvement in the news media.

He says they recommend that the draconian and punitive measures in the Act should be taken away completely as there are enough legislations in place to deal with any serious transgression by the news media.

Dr. Singh adds replacing the Media Council with the Media Act was taking the axe to a fairly minor problem.

Meanwhile the United Nations has welcomed the move by the coalition government to repeal the Media Industry Development Act and would like to provide guidance on media laws to make it compliant with international standards.

While speaking on behalf of the United Nations Human Rights Office, Resident Coordinator’s Office, UNDP and UNESCO during the consultation on the draft Media Bill, Releshni Karan says people need to be afforded the same rights offline as they are protected online such as their freedom of expression and this is applicable regardless of frontiers.

Karan says any future Act should ensure the rights of people in places other than traditional media and that it is respectful of human rights and dignity and promotes safety of journalists.

She says they should also look at taking out the seditious provisions from the Crimes Act which was traditionally used against the journalists.

Karan further says women journalists should be protected from harm or harassment both online and offline and the current draft does not have any reference to privacy or human rights issues and it should be included.

Click here for full coverage on the public consultation on the Draft Media Bill

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