12 Sep 2006

Broadcasting bill in Fiji could face court challenge

8:54 am on 12 September 2006

There's been a call in Fiji to take the government to court if it goes ahead with its draconian Broadcasting Licensing Bill.

The call has come from the publisher of the Fiji Times, Tony Yianni, who has urged his broadcasting colleagues to seek a judicial review of the legislation in the High Court.

Mr Yianni says the government cannot enact a law that breaches Fiji's constitution.

The Broadcasting Licensing Bill provides for a fine of 300-thousand US dollars and cancellation of the broadcasting licence of any organisation found to be in breach of its provisions.

Mr Yianni says the Bill lays down a framework that can be abused by governments if they have a sinister agenda.

He says avoiding that potential abuse should be handled now.

Both Mr Yianni and Communications Fiji Limited managing director, William Parkinson, say the government has every right to introduce legislation about the licensing aspect of the broadcast media.

But they say this does not mean the regulation of its programmes and advertising content.