22 Aug 2006

Fiji paper speaks out against broadcasting licensing bill

12:24 pm on 22 August 2006

The Fiji Sun has called for the government's Broadcasting Licensing Bill to be killed, saying it is another attempt by the state to control the broadcast media.

The Bill will set up a Broadcast Licensing Authority whose chairman and five members will all be appointed by the minister for information.

The minister will have the power to give general or specific policy directions to the Authority which it will have to comply with.

In an editorial today, the Fiji Sun says the Broadcast Licensing Bill contains much in the way of camouflage and high sounding phrases such as "ethical conduct" and "public interest".

But, it says, at the heart of the deeply flawed Bill is the fact that the minister will define those terms and decide what is ethical conduct and public interest.

The Sun says the same political appointees will act as a disciplinary committee to act on complaints from the public including politicians and mete out punishment.

It says politicians do things for political reasons and the Broadcast Licensing Authority will consist of political appointees who can be expected to do the government's bidding.

The Sun says if the appointees do not follow the government's instructions, the minister will have the power to remove them.

It says this and the authority to regulate radio and television content, public taste and ethics, is far too much power to give to a politician and the Bill has to be stopped.