12 Sep 2006

Fiji Media Council to continue lobbying over bill

4:00 pm on 12 September 2006

The chairman of Fiji's Media Council, Daryl Tarte, says he doesn't anticipate going down the track of taking legal action over the government's Broadcasting Licensing bill.

The Fiji Times says a judicial review will be needed if the government doesn't amend the bill which has gone through its first reading in parliament and a select committee, without the significant changes recommended by media organisations.

There's concern over two main issues, including the minister being able to appoint members to the board of the Broadcasting Authority because that could lead to cronyism, and also the proposed regulation of standards.

Mr Tarte says the Media council has made written and oral submissions to the committee and met with the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, about the bill.

He says even though the committee reviewing the bill didn't alter it, he believes parliament will take into account the concerns.

"We will continue to lobby in whatever fora is possible to lobby in and hopefully we will get what want. And, that is significant amendments to this bill. In its present form, it's going to be totally unacceptable to the media organisations and the media council, and indeed, to civil society in Fiji."

Daryl Tarte.

A prominent lawyer says it's unusual for parliament to substantially alter a bill if it's been reviewed by a select committee.