14 Sep 2006

Fiji Broadcasting Bill could become law this session of Parliament

8:04 pm on 14 September 2006

It's been confirmed that Fiji's Broadcasting Licensing Bill will go before the current session of parliament for debate and the final vote.

Radio Legend says the confirmation has come from the minister for information, Isireli Leweniqila.

Mr Leweniqila says no further consultations will take place as the parliamentary committee scrutinizing the Bill has tabled its report after considering submissions.

If the Bill is passed in its current form, a politically appointed minister for information will appoint members of the Broadcasting Licensing Authority with powers to control programme and advertising content.

The Broadcasting Licensing Authority will also have the power to impose fines of up to 300-thousand US dollars and cancel the licence of any broadcaster found to be in breach of its regulations.

The Bill has drawn worldwide protests with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions threatening to mobilize its 200-million members from affiliated unions against it.

Earlier, the Fiji Law Society said the penalty provisions in the Bill were excessive and arbitrary and the Authority should not have the power to impose penalties of this magnitude.

The Society said penalties should only be imposed by a court after consideration is given to all relevant issues.