2 Dec 2005

Samoa media agree to adopt self regulation

4:13 pm on 2 December 2005

Representatives of newspapers, radio, television and the Journalists Association of Samoa have agreed to adopt voluntary self-regulation and work towards the establishment of a media council.

The council would be called the Samoa Media Complaint Commission and it would be charged with investigating complaints made against media members and to adjudicate for them.

Media officials met a British expert on media self-regulation, Ian Beales, this week and agreed that the media and public would be better served by self regulation rather than regulation from an external body like government.

According to the Samoa Observer, the media organisations are hopeful that establishing the media council would eventually lead to the repeal of two laws that they see as a threat to media freedom.

These are the law of Criminal Defamation and the Publishers and Printers Act.

The criminal defamation law was last used by the late Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana against the editor of the Samoa Observer in 1998, for publishing a letter to the editor critical of the PM.

A case was in progress when Tofilau passed away and the government discontinued it.

The Publishers and Printers Act empowers government leaders to demand from editors their sources of information.