Big win for democracy and media freedom: FMA

March 30, 2023 6:46 am

FMA General Secretary Stanley Simpson

The Fijian Media Association has welcomed cabinet’s decision to table a bill in Parliament to repeal the Media Industry Development Act 2010.

In a statement, the FMA says it 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.

It adds that today the threat and that burden are being lifted.

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FMA says 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.”

FMA General Secretary Stanley Simpson says that 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freedom in Fiji for over 12 years, and the FMA, in its submission to the government, has been adamant that the Act be repealed.

Simpson says the excessive fines hanging over the heads of media organizations and editors were threatening, not conducive to media freedom, and designed to be vindictive, punish, and control the media rather than encourage better reporting standards.

He says the FMA advocates that to bring back the media freedom Fiji was renowned for prior to 2006, it is necessary to bring back the situation that existed prior to 2006, and that is media self-regulation through the Fiji Media Council, an organization made up of media organizations and community representatives to handle complaints and media standards.

He adds that 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 FMA General Secretary says the repeal of the MIDA Act will reignite the Fijian media and herald a new era of media freedom in Fiji.

He says the backbone of any democracy is an independent, strong, and responsible media that reports, critiques, analyzes, and stimulates debates that are vital to the democratic process.