Repeal Fiji’s media law and start with ‘clean slate’, says CFL chief

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Communications Fiji Ltd (CFL) chair William Parkinson
Communications Fiji Ltd (CFL) chair William Parkinson . . . "An unscrupulous player taking large control . . . [is] already covered by way of the Fiji Competition and Consumer Commission." Image: Jonacani Lalakobau/The Fiji Times

By Arieta Vakasukawaqa in Suva

Communications Fiji Ltd (CFL) chair William Parkinson has called for a repeal of Fiji’s Media Industry Development Act 2010 and more discussion on the proposed Media Ownership and Registration Bill 2023.

He said this during a public consultation on the review of MIDA Act 2010 at Suvavou House yesterday where a draft replacement law was handed to participants.

“I am concerned because after we pass this Bill, we will be stuck with it for a very lengthy period while we have this wider consultation with the community, and the media is then just spinning its wheels, unable to move forward on critical issues it needs to address,” Parkinson said.

“The question is, do we start with the complete repeal of the Bill and then have the consultations over any issue that you may have, or do we start with this (the draft)?

“For me, I think we start with a clean slate and then we can have a wider conversation about whether there is the need for regulation in any sensitivity areas, and of course part of the conversation are these issues are already covered under (other) forms of legislation or control.

“For example, cross media ownership or the unscrupulous player taking control of large sections of the media, that could apply to an unscrupulous player taking large control of the supermarket or any other form of business in Fiji, and its already covered by way of FCCC (Fiji Competition and Consumer Commission).

Don’t ‘over-complicate’ media law
“These are all covered already, and I don’t see a need for any further particular legislation for the media.

“So our call from the media, we have no problem with a wider media consultation or media regulation, if that is necessary, lets start with a clean slate, that is our position.”

University of the South Pacific head of journalism associate professor Shailendra Singh urged the drafters of the legislation to be aware of Fiji’s media system, especially after the covid-19 pandemic when it was vulnerable politically and financially.

He urged the drafters not to “over-complicate” laws for the media.

Arieta Vakasukawaqa is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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