The Fijian Media Association (FMA) welcomes and celebrates the decision by Cabinet to table a Bill in Parliament to repeal the draconian Media Industry Development Act 2010.
This has been a long time coming for Fiji’s media workers who have struggled to operate freely under this law while carrying the threat and burden of the punitive law every day they have turned up to work for the past 12 years, says FMA General Secretary Stanley Simpson.
Today the threat and that burden is being lifted.
The news has been welcomed by editors and journalists as a historic moment for the Fiji media and a big win for democracy and media freedom.
“The MIDA Act 2010 and its subsequent amendments have restricted media development and suppressed media freedom in Fiji for over 12 years and the FMA in its submission to government has been adamant that the Act be repealed,” says Simpson.
The excessive fines hanging over the heads of the media organisations and editors were threatening, not conducive to media freedom, and designed to be vindictive, punish and control the media rather that encourage better reporting standards.
The FMA advocates for the return of media freedom to Fiji for which it was renowned prior to 2006 by returning to the situation that existed prior to 2006, and that is media self-regulation through the Fiji Media Council, an organisation made up of media organisations and community reps to handle complaints and media standards.
“In its 12 years of existence no cases appeared before MIDA or its non-existent Tribunal, highlighting how ineffective it has been for media development, but solely designed to be used as a tool for media suppression.
“The repeal of the MIDA Act will reignite the Fijian media and heralds a new era of media freedom in Fiji. The backbone of any democracy is an independent, strong and responsible media that reports, critiques, analyses and stimulate debates that are vital to the democratic process.
“In this regard, the FMA would like to express its appreciation to the Coalition government for following through on their promise to remove the draconian law, and allow the media to do its work in holding government and people in authority accountable.”