Motion to review Act defeated

A MOTION by National Federation Party leader and Opposition MP Professor Biman Prasad to review the Media Industry Development Act 2010 was defeated in Parliament yesterday.

The motion was to allow subscription-based television service to air local content including news and commercial advertisements in conformity to principles of freedom and dissemination of information in a modern democratic nation.

Prof Prasad said the Media Industry Development Decree was regressive and suppressed media freedom because it imposed restrictions on pay TV networks.

The MIDA Amendment Act was passed by Parliament in July 2015 to facilitate Digicel mobile telecommunications company to buy Sky Pacific from Fiji Television.

However, Prof Prasad said certain conditions were legislated by Government through the passage of the Amendment Act.

“Any person or organisation awarded a licence shall be subject to conditions as determined by the minister. Therefore, a pay or subscription television service provider is not only handicapped by the restrictive provisions of the MIDA Amendment ACT, but also restricted by the minister who can enforce conditions,” he said.

Prof Prasad said it was unacceptable that Sky Pacific customers were denied access to Fiji One.

In his response, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji One had not been denied any rights.

“On the terms and condition prior to the sale, they agreed to it and they went ahead with it,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“People have the choice to watch whatever they want.”