With the upcoming elections, it is essential that Fiji has a free media that is able to
report without fear and remain fair. We are told that there is no media censorship. The
fact remains that there is a Media Decree and the Media Industry Development
Authority is acting as the government’s watchdog over the media. So far it is evident
that MIDA is prepared only to act in support of the government and has not shown the
same enthusiasm when complaints are made by others. MIDA has been quick to pounce
on media outlets that report on any negative issues about the government. This is called
media control and only forces the media to self censor. This situation is unacceptable.
MIDA needs to demonstrate independence and fairness. Its role is not to instill fear in
the media fraternity and this must stop forthwith.
Recently, an employee of Fiji TV was summarily terminated for simply suggesting in a
staff meeting that the TV station should give all political parties equal time during the
upcoming elections. This comment was reported to the Government and the TV station
was instructed to terminate the employee. This is not the first instance that an
employee of a media outlet has been terminated for airing their views. A radio
personality was also terminated for making comments about the loud music in the
National Stadium on instructions from Government and powers that be.
This clearly demonstrates the control that the Government exercises to ensure no
negative reporting or independent views are aired by the media or their employees. The
PDP condemns such despicable behavior of the Government and urges that it not
interfere in the work of the media. The PDP also calls on the reinstatement of the
Employees concerned or the payment of fair compensation.
We cannot have free and fair elections without a free media, where the people can
debate issues and get to know the truth about all issues that affect their daily lives. Then
only will people be able to make informed decisions on who to vote for.
Currently the media is crowded with reports on the Government only, no matter how
insignificant. This is unfair and must change. TV stations are forced to air government
propaganda as well including everything that the Prime Minister opens almost on a daily
basis. We need a level playing field for all political parties. This is not the case presently.
Such a situation is untenable and brings into question media laws imposed. The PDP will
as a matter of urgency, review all media laws including government ownership of FBC
TV and Radio and Fiji TV which government indirectly controls as well.
The PDP recognizes the important role of the media and is committed to free speech
and a free media. No democracy is complete without a free media.
PDP Party Leader