28 Jun 2010

Fiji regime puts new media decree into force

7:57 pm on 28 June 2010

The decree imposed on Fiji's media has been made official, and comes into effect from today.

The interim regime says the decree is to ensure accurate and balanced reporting, but journalists could be jailed while there'll be negligible foreign ownership of Fiji media.

Jo O'Brien has more.

"The media decree was consulted on in April, and the interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, in a statement, says many recommendations have been included in the final decree. Defying the decree will now result in fines of up to just over 500 US dollars or possible jail terms of up to two years for a journalist, or fines of up to just over 50,000 US dollars for a media organisation. In the statement Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says the residency requirement for ownership of media organisations has been relaxed, however the regime says at least 90% of beneficial shareholders must be Fiji citizens living in Fiji for three out of the seven years prior to registration and thereafter residing in Fiji for at least six out of 12 months of a year. The Australian owned Fiji Times, the country's biggest newspaper, is singled out in the statement as the only organisation which needs to comply with the new ownership regulations. The decree gives the paper's owners three months to meet the new requirements."