Fiji’s media veterans recount intimidation under FijiFirst government – eye on reforms

Pacific Beat media freedom in Fiji
Fiji's media veterans recount intimidation under the former FijiFirst government . . . they hope the new leaders will reinstall press freedom. Image: ABC screenshot

Pacific Media Watch

Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat reports today on how Fiji has fared under the draconian Media Act that has restricted media freedom over the past decade.

There are hopes that state-endorsed media censorship will stop in Fiji following last month’s change in government to the People’s Alliance-led coalition.

Reported by Fiji correspondent Lice Movono, the podcast outlines former Fiji Times editor-in-chief Netani Rika’s experiences of repression under the former FijiFirst government.

But a change in government has also been reflected by a change in attitude towards the media.

It comes as the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation board has terminated the contract of FBC’s chief executive Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum amid reports that the CEO for the public broadcaster earned more money than the prime minister of the country.

Media veterans are also hoping for changes to Fiji’s controversial Media Act, or its complete removal, to protect freedom of the press.

Movono also reports on Islands Business editor Samantha Magick’s view on media freedom and retired journalism professor Dr David Robie, who founded the Pacific Media Centre, expressing his “scepticism” over whether the hoped for relaxed rules would go far enough for the global RSF Media Freedom Index which ranks Fiji at just 102nd out of 180 countries.

The media item is rounded off with an interview with Attorney-General Siromi Turaga who says the repression of the past should never have happened.

He said he would directly work on the changes to the Act, once the minister responsible for information moves to suggest changes.

“The coalition government is going to provide a different approach, a truly democratic way of dealing with press freedom,” Turaga said.

“We’re going to ensure they have freedom to broadcast to impart knowledge information to members of the public.”

Netani Rika, former editor of The Fiji Times and former Fiji Television manager of news and current affairs
Samantha Magick, editor of Islands Business
Dr David Robie, retired journalism professor and editor of Asia Pacific Report
Siromi Turaga, Attorney-General of Fiji

In other items on today’s Pacific Beat:

  • Fiji’s top cop and head of prisons are suspended pending an investigation by a special tribunal.
  • A programme is launched in the Australian state of Victoria to get seasonal workers road-ready.
  • Pacific women take part in Tennis Australia’s leadership programme, coinciding with the Australian Open.
  • And scientists warn some sharks are on the brink of extinction.

Reporter Lice Movono

Presenter: Prianka Srinivasan

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