Scrap or reform Fiji’s media law, says new elections report

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Associate professor Shailendra Singh
USP's Associate professor Shailendra Singh ... law does not address Fiji journalism's lack of training and development. Image: Fijivillage

By Rusiate Baleilevuka of Fijivillage in Suva

“We need to scrap or reform the Media Industry Development Act.”

This is one of the key recommendations in the National Media Reporting of the 2018 Fijian General Elections Report.

Co-author and University of the South Pacific (USP) journalism coordinator, Associate Professor Shailendra Singh, said the Act was supposed to promote professionalism in journalism and did not address journalism’s lack of training and development.

Dr Singh added that state advertising needed to be evenly distributed among media organisations, and public service broadcast grants needed to be allocated evenly among broadcasters.

The National Media Reporting of the 2018 Fijian General Elections research was presented by Dr Singh and Dialogue Fiji executive director Nilesh Lal.

The report provides a content analysis of the media coverage of the 2018 elections.

It focuses on a number of indicators such as direct quotation space and time, frequency of appearance, directional balance in terms of positive, negative or neutral representation of political parties or election candidates and issue balance in relation to prioritising coverage of various issues.

  • Pacific Media Watch reports that Fiji’s Media Industry Development Act was originally a military decree imposed in 2010 after the 2006 Bainimarama coup and became codified law in 2015. It is widely regarded by critics as draconian.
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