After 16 years of working under oppressive media law in Fiji, its an historic day for the local media fraternity in the Pacific nation as the now revitalised Fiji Media Council (FMC) was launched Thursday.
Speaking at the launch of the Council in Suva, Minister for Communications Manoa Kamikamica said the FMC comprises a diverse group of individuals who are committed to upholding the highest journalistic standards, defending media independence and freedom and proactively addressing public concerns.
“Members of the public today is an historic day for Fiji, I am pleased to announce yet another major development in our national media landscape. As you are aware, on 06 April of this year, the Parliament repealed the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) Act, which fulfilled the Coalition Government’s commitment to reinstate media freedom and for a more dynamic, accountable, and independent media industry in Fiji.
Since the repeal, there has been a lot of work progressing to establish the Fiji Media Council, and I am pleased to announce that the composition of this important body has been finalised,” Kamikamica told journalists in Suva.
Kamikamica also congratulated former executive director of Fiji Media Watch, Agatha Ferei-Furivai who was unanimously elected as Chair of the Fiji Media Council.
“I’d also like to congratulate the members of the Council.
I’ve been informed that the Fiji Media Council is made up of a diverse group, including national media organisations, government reps, and community members. This diversity is a big plus, as it allows for a wide range of perspectives and ensures that the Council can have meaningful discussions and make good decisions,” he said.
The other members of the council include Arshad Daud, Inoke Bainimarama, Laisa Bale, Marc McElrath, Naina Ragigia and Shirleen Sahai.
The Fiji Media Council consists of seven public members and seven media companies.
Kamikamica said the main goal of the Fiji Media Council is to promote self-regulation and uphold high standards in the media industry.
“It acts as a platform where people in the media world can talk, work together, and resolve any issues that come up. The Council is also committed to taking public complaints about media content and ethics seriously, making sure there’s a fair and transparent process for handling concerns.
“In addition, the Fiji Media Council is working on creating a set of guidelines called a ‘Code of Ethics and Practice’ for everyone in the media field. These guidelines stress the importance of accuracy, fairness, and accountability in journalism. The Council is also all about boosting media literacy among the public, giving people the tools they need to critically engage with media content.
“The Fiji Media Council is all about maintaining a diverse and responsible media landscape, building trust, and promoting transparency between media pros and the public,” Kamikamica stressed.
He said the Coalition Government is fully committed to supporting the Fiji Media Council in its endeavours.
“With that being said and as I have mentioned previously on many occasions, it is important to point out that the Fiji Media Council will operate independently of government influence, safeguarding its integrity and credibility.
The establishment of the Media Council represents a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to create a vibrant and responsible media industry. We are confident that the Council, with its diverse membership and clear mandate, will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our media landscape,” said Kamikamica.
Kamikamica has assured the government will not interfere in the running of the Media Council.
“Will ensure that way that media freedom in this country is safe guarded.
They say it’s an oxygen of democracy thats why where we are and if anything the government can do is support. We need to help out media get a bit more skills in terms of questioning, interrogating may be, some assistance to the Media council but that wont be given without any pre-conditions because its very important that we have a free media in Fiji,” said Kamikamica.
Fiji Media Council Chair, Agatha Ferei-Furivai Ferei said one of the immediate tasks of the FMC is to create a set of guidelines for media practitioners called a ‘Code of Ethics and Practice’ that underline the importance of accuracy, fairness, and accountability for journalist.
“The other thing is for us to move as fast as possible to bring in a complaint committee that can run and that’s one area we will probably look in first,” she said.
Fiji Media Association (FMA) General Secretary Stanley Simpson described the launch today as a ‘historic day, a great day for Fiji Media’.
“I think many people don’t appreciate the devastating damage effects of the last 16 years and it became not just raising quality and standards, Its really a matter of survival for many of us.
“We are so thankful Minister for your understanding and your respect for the democratic principals of media freedom which is one of the corner stones of any effective democracy in the world over,” Simpson said.