University of the South Pacific (USP) head of journalism programme associate professor Shailendra Singh said the announcement by the Fiji government that it will repeal the Media Industry Development Act 2010. was expected.
Dr Singh said repealing the punitive legislation was a core election platform promise of the three challenger parties which are now in power.
“This is a good decision because the Fijian media and other stakeholders were not sufficiently consulted when the decree was promulgated in June 2010.”
But he said while getting rid of the media act was welcomed, the coalition was working on a new legislation and “we have to wait and see what that looks like”.
“The media act was dead in the water or redundant before the change in government. The new government could not have implemented it after coming to power, having criticised it and campaigned against it in their election campaign,” he said.
“Repealing the act removes the fear factor prevalent in the sector for nearly 13 years now.”
Dr Singh said the government has committed to the growth and development of a strong news media.
But that, he said, will require more than the repeal of the act.
“[Improving standards] will require some financial investments by the state since media organisation are struggling financially due to the digital disruption followed by Covid.”
He said among the many challenges, the media industry is struggling to retain staff.
“So incentives like government scholarships specifically in the media sector could be one way of helping out. Media is a public good and like any public good government should invest in it for the benefit of the public,” he said.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS