23 Aug 2006

Fiji public broadcaster against licensing bill

5:51 pm on 23 August 2006

The state-owned Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited has spoken out strongly against the government's Broadcast Licensing Bill which will give control of radio and television broadcasting to politicians.

The chief executive of the company, Francis Herman, has questioned the motives of the Bill and vigorously rejected attempts to legislate media content.

In a submission to the parliamentary select committee scrutinising the Bill, Mr Herman says there will be strong resistance to stop the Bill being manipulated and used as a weapon by the government to control the media.

Mr Herman says in its present form the Bill is very draconian and seeks to limit the freedom of the media.

He says any attempt to gag the media, to control its content and to legislate against issues that can be discussed on the radio must be opposed.

Mr Herman says even though the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation is owned by the government, it would do anything to protect the integrity of its newsroom.

He says they are disturbed that those who are behind this Bill did not see it fit to give the media a copy for discussion before it was tabled in parliament.

Mr Herman says it is high time that everybody opposed to any form of censorship stands up and speaks out.