7 Apr 2010

Fiji media decree talks begin

10:08 am on 7 April 2010

Consultations over Fiji's Media Decree are getting underway today but participants have only a short time to view the draft document.

The document was to be available at 8 o'clock this morning, with talks to begin two and a half hours later.

The interim Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, says he believes it is more than enough time.

But a media law expert at New Zealand's Canterbury University, Associate Professor Ursula Cheer, says interested parties would normally be given weeks to respond.

"Even though all the stakeholders are allowed to be there, to have a paper about two and a half hours before you are going to meet and actually discuss the issues that arise is going to put a great deal of pressure on those taking part and they feel, I think that its not a very adequate consultation."

Ursula Cheer points out that factors such as the foreign ownership of media are extremely complex and important and that freedom of expression issues underlie everything in the decree.

The first consultation is due to be held in Suva with others in Lautoka and Labasa over the next few days.