Editorial Comment – Media laws

MEDIA laws are on the radar of some political parties leading up to the elections this year it seems. The National Federation Party, Social Democratic Liberal Party, and the Fiji Labour Party believe the media environment in the country is restrictive. The registered parties were all asked for their views on the media in Fiji. The question also highlighted Fiji’s ranking on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index and sought their views on media freedom in the country. We asked them for their assessment of this ranking and the status of media freedom in Fiji. As usual, questions were also sent to the FijiFirst party, Unity Fiji and the Fiji United Freedom Party which did not respond when this edition went to press last night. NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said if his party came into power, they would repeal the Media Act. Prof Prasad believes the media should not be regulated by the State. SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka said his party would support a free media that empowered people to make informed decisions. Mr Rabuka hoped to see a media that sought accountability and promoted transparency. FLP parliamentary leader Aman Ravindra-Singh said they would promote intensive journalism training programs. Mr Ravindra-Singh said the party would remove media licensing restrictions and review local/expatriate ownership laws in the best interest of the nation. The attention focused on the media is interesting indeed. Journalists in Fiji, much like many of their counterparts abroad are sometimes misunderstood. They also have loved ones. They have individual wants and needs. They have aspirations and obviously appreciate their job enough to remain in a field that is tough to work in here. Some journalists have been castigated by their subjects, even by some government officials. Some senior journalists have left the media for various reasons. Their work can be a thankless one. Yet despite the many challenges journalists in Fiji go through daily, there is personal satisfaction every time they leave an indelible impression on the minds of people and the nation. This year is an important one, and journalists have a massive challenge before them. It is obviously important that Fijians get relevant information that will allow them to make well-informed decisions leading up to the polls. That is where a strong and vibrant media comes in, allowing a platform that embraces people from all walks of life, across every imaginary demarcation line. Different people will have different views about what constitutes good news. The important thing though is allowing them a platform to voice that view and speak out about their concerns, hopes, and aspirations. The bar is high as it should be.

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