29 Aug 2006

Fiji PM denies claims media bill aims at government control

2:38 pm on 29 August 2006

Fiji's prime minister. Laisenia Qarase, says the government is not trying to control the media through its Broadcast Licensing Bill.

Leading Fiji media figures have described the Bill as draconian.

They say it will put radio and television into the control of politicians through a politically appointed Broadcasting Licensing Authority which will have the power to levy fines of 300-thousand US dollars and cancel licences.

But Mr Qarase has told Radio Legend that while a legal framework is necessary for the media industry, he will personally ensure that the media is free to carry out its work.

Mr Qarase says his government is not inclined to be thinking of controlling the media at all.

He says the cabinet will hear the voices of members of the public to determine whether there should be amendments to the Bill before it is taken back to parliament.

Mr Qarase says that based on views that have been expressed already, he would like to see some changes to certain provisions of the Bill.