Restrictions on Fijian election coverage
By Samisoni Pareti
Thu 11 Sep 2014
A few candidates in Fiji’s general elections with some members of the public after the drawing of their numbers last month— Samisoni Pareti
Authorities in Fiji have reminded media organisations about laws covering the country’s general elections scheduled for Wednesday next week.
Both the Supervisor of Elections Mohammad Saneem and Executive Chairman of the Media Industry Development Authority Ashwin Raj explained the applications of the “blackout period” in accordance with Section 118 of the new Electoral Decree at a briefing today in the Fijian Elections Office.
During the blackout, no media organisation is allowed to publish or broadcast any political activity. Political activity is defined as including advertisements, interview any political actors, and conduct debates or commentaries that would be deemed as advocacy or has the potential to influence voters.
The blackout period for Fiji’s general elections starts 7.30am on Monday, September 15 and ends at the close of polling, 6pm on Wednesday, September 17.
All news reporting for either publication or broadcast during this blackout period must be first vetted for approval by MIDA. Failure to do so will result in the immediate cancellation of the accreditation of the journalist concerned and the media organisation she or he represents. “They will not be permitted to report on the election,” says the joint Elections Office and MIDA guidelines.
These restrictions also cover exit polls as well as taking photography in the polling venues.
Saneem and Raj say the guidelines will be applied equally to local and overseas journalists. Raj added ‘he works faster than the United Nations’ so the turnaround of vetted news copies from him should not be an issue.