(o) Draft Media Decree Update; Blog Blocking; WAC Announcement, and ...

Short Briefs
DRAFT MEDIA DECREE UPDATE AND BLOG BLOCKING

The Draft Media Decree. I understand participants at the Suva consultation had to return their copy of the draft decree before leaving the meeting. Whatever for? The draft was already leaked to the media. But even before sighting the draft, the usual team of of anti-government assessors had already made their judgment. Mine will have to wait until I've studied the draft in detail and pondered on what others have written.

I see no problem with the Code of Ethics which I wrongly thought this whole exercise was about,  but there are four  areas of major concern: 1) the proposed limitations on foreign media that will affect The Fiji Times and the Fiji Daily News;  2) the extent to which MIDA (the Media Industry Development Authority) and the Media Tribunal are able to be independent of government control;  3) the extent of fines for breaching the regulations and (4) who will pay them, the media organization or the journalist?

I'd previously accepted the need for checks on the media because of  its unbalanced reporting but I'm now more concerned about checks on those who check the media.

David Robie, as usual, has an informative opinion piece,  and David, who has read the draft, is very concerned. (photo, AUT)

The only new news since yesterday is that the the A-G has said all comments will be considered (let us hope so!); the consultation at Labasa has been cancelled; the Media Council has requested a meeting with government once the consultations are over; and the Fiji Times and the Murdoch group, like me, have chosen to keep their powder dry.

This is probably the most important legislation decreed since July last year, and the airwaves are alive with comment, not least on this blog. Check out readers' comments if you want to know how both "sides" and those in the middle feel.

ANNOUNCEMENT. Bryan Crump will be interviewing me on RadioNZ's Nights with Bryan Crump at 9:40pm next Monday April 12. I hope by then to be able to say something "intelligent" about the draft Media Decree.

Anti-Government Coup Apologist? First, I'm called a coup apologist by anti-government bloggers, and worse by the erstwhile Michael Field for whom I am a resurrected Lord Haw Haw (an English Hitler propagandist). And now, according to Fiji Today, the Ministry of Information has added my  blog to its list of "subversive" websites.

I feel like the pedestrian who tried to stop a man beating his wife -- and finished up being beaten by both of them. But perhaps the Minister is more interested in readers' comments than the main posts. The blog has attracted a large number of very anti-govenment, anti-Indian, anti-"coup apologist" comments lately. (Note: Fiji Today and its fellow blog Coupfourpointfourfive are often the more moderate of the anti-government blogs.)

Blog blocking again: ISP's incompetent. Cornelius writes: 'Tried to post this in your ‘general comments’, but the proxy doesn’t allow it. I was hoping my comment would sting someone into some action. Forlorn hope, I expect.'

"Whilst the blocking of some blogs is at the IG's behest, the rest are blocked purely because of the sheer incompetence of the ISP's. How they are unable to block half a dozen URL's without blocking dozen's (if not hundreds) of others is beyond me. Perhaps Kidanet and Connect need to employ people that know more than how to just move the mouse!"


OTHER ITEMS

A World Bank team will visit Fiji later this month to discuss land reform initiatives, aimed partucularly at helping the sugar industry. The Bank  expects the Fiji economy to do better this year.

A Chinese NGO has donated 750 sewing machines to Fiji's rural women.

Make Hindi compulsory in all Sanatan schools up to form four. This was one of the recommendations of the Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji made at their 51st Annual convention over the weekend. I wonder what's happened to government's plan to have Fijian and Hindu taught in all primary schools and to the public service? Can anyone inform me on this?

The NZ Radio Apna 40-hour radiothon raised $133,000 that has been used to provide basic food items to 3,000 families in Vanua Levu.

ANNOUNCEMENT. Women’s Action for Change (WAC) and women’s groups from 15 informal settlements will present a very special community performance of the new 2010 WAC play, ‘F Word’ on Saturday 10 April at the Crypt, below the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Pratt Street, Suva. The play begins at 3pm, with a Playback Theatre session to follow and ending at 4.30pm.

Over 200 women and girls from 15 informal settlement communities  are working with Women’s Action for Change (WAC), to gather and share lived experiences and strategies to address gender-based violence, using the arts for participative research, collective action, and advocacy. Their stories are the core of this play. The ‘F word’ explores the links between restrictive concepts of gender and sexuality, families, and violence, and their impact on women and girls in Fiji. This includes social sanctions, discrimination and multiple forms of psychological, physical, sexual and economic violence.
All are invited. For further information please contact wac@connect.com.fj or noelenen@gmail.com

Another matanigasau. A 70-member delegation from Cautata in Tailevu province led by the Roko Tui Cautata, Jioji Koronikainamata, has offered a traditional apology (matanigasau) to the PM and RFMF and reassured the PM of its whole-hearted support in moving Fiji forward.

A fleet of four vaka representing Aotoeara, Cook Islands, Samoa and the wider Pacific will leave Auckland on April 14 bound for Fiji, Samoa. Cook Islands and Tahiti. Each vaka has a crew of 14.

Comments

Veivutuni said…
The media decree has been very successful in getting unfavourable responses from international entities and corporations with its interpretations of media freedom.

The fines that have been set are ridiculous in their logic and defies common sense as to how the media can outcommit murder and treason in their illegality.

The media censorship. that was condemned and ridiculed by the international community is now "Law" and it has given rights to the junta to even search homes for documents and evidence which could upset public or the illegal government's cause/course.

There is no public input into the decree and most importantly the stakeholders are given 2 hours to read but are not allowed to copy the draft document. Why ?

The whole media decree is just a clear reflection of the illegal government and their dictatorial ways of gaining from other peoples' demise and gullibility thus proving their suspected state of fear and cover-up.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Veivutuni. Just a small, but important, point. You are writing about the decree draft, not the law.
Kumala Vula said…
Croz,

Having read Dr Robie's piece, I think he is spot on about the repressive nature of the Decree. It is sad for the illegal to go down this path. But I guess if you're afraid and fearful of any type of opposing views, you will go all the way to clamp down on any form of media outlet capable of espousing news or info you don't like.

Concerns about the draft law cited by Dr Robie, who is also convenor of the PMC’s Pacific Media Watch project, included:
• Too much power being vested in the ministerial-appointed director of the MIDA and chairman of the Media Tribunal. Both agencies needed wider community representation and independence.
• The power to investigate suspected breaches of the decree and to search and seize documents and equipment (with a warrant) – this would be the “death knell” of investigative journalism.
• A requirement that all news reports publish a “byline” identifying the author.
• The power to punish media organisations guilty of an offence under the decree with a fine of up to F$500,000, and individual editors and journalists with a fine of up to $100,000 or a maximum jail term of five years.
• The power to proactively investigate a media organisation without a public complaint being filed.

“This opens the door to vindictive abuse in a climate of dictatorship and the singling out of media organisations that do not toe the regime line,” he said.
“There is a case to be made for better engagement by media on national development issues, but this should be achieved through more journalism training and education and more support for the country’s journalism schools and training institutions, such as the University of the South Pacific,” Dr Robie said.

“A government cannot legislate people’s minds. Much more can be achieved by freeing up the media environment, backing off from censorship and engaging with the media in a more cooperative manner.
“To get its own side of the story across, the Fiji regime should establish a national news agency like many developing countries do and let the media get on with its job of reporting unfettered in the public interest.”
Anonymous said…
If the draft becomes law, and there is no reason why it won't, all stories will need to have bylines.

Does that include one-paragraph briefs that are used as fillers on each page?

Aesthetic it won't be.

TuMa
TheMax said…
@ Cros

I"m using Kidanet and still able to log into your blog and many others without using a proxy. The only one I can't log into is Fiji Coup News and rightly so because that blogsite itself is anti-Fiji its depressing reading their articles.
Blockheads said…
There’s a fundamental flaw in the logic behind much of what’s been written by those in favour of censorship of what they see to be the pernicious media. Surely, if you don’t like what you read, see or hear, then simply don’t seek it out.

A recent case in point is TheMax’s remark that it’s good the Fiji Coup News website is blocked because “…that blogsite itself is anti-Fiji. It’s depressing reading their articles.”

So don’t read them. Don’t go there. You wouldn’t walk into Traps and then be depressed that people are drinking there would you? It’s a mind set which seem prevalent in all of those who are offended by media reporting which, in their view, is consistently biased one way or the other since the anti-coup lobby is no different – visiting this site with admonitions to don running shoes and do cross country training through the tei tei.

All of you - why on earth go out of your way to read the views of others and then have an attack of the vapours when those views don’t correspond with your own?

Accept that all forms of the media have their own agenda, just private individuals do. Then thank your lucky stars that you’re clever enough to know that what you read and hear is only half correct and are, hopefully, intelligent enough to know which half.

The Fiji Court presently has sufficient legal power to deal with issues like slander, incitement and other gross transgressions by the media. Those who are advocates for media censorship either have no faith in the court system, no faith in their own intelligence or no faith in the intelligence of others.
TheMax said…
@ Blockheads

You can't tell what's in a blogsite unless you click on it and read what's there. That's what I did. I was merely pointing out here that Fiji Coup News deserved to be censored for the amount of anti-Fiji reporting that they publish.

Don't worry I'm not going there again and I hope it remains blocked by the ISP's here in Fiji.
Anonymous said…
Croz!

You may or may not be aware that somewhere around 1992 or so, the Sanatan Dharm annual convention made a decision to teach Fijian (that's right, Fijian) throughout all its schools up to Form 2 or so.

This should obviously have fit right in with the openly "nationalist" sentiments of the SVT and SDL Governments that followed. But it would also would have been the kind of thing that the putatively "multi-cultural" (but shot-lived) Peoples' Coalition should have warmed to as well.

However, throughout virtually the entire tenure of the three elected governments that followed, I don't think the ministry of education ever supplied even one Fijian language teacher to any of the Sanatan schools.

The first thought that comes to mind on hearing a story like that how ineffective or uncoordinated those government's must have been. But it also highlights how unwieldy the Fiji civil service is. This is something Rabuka used to often complain of back in the day. Fast forward to today, and Bai is still complaining about the civil service. So far as we can tell, the Charter has made either very little inroads, or very little impact, into the set-up of the civil service today.

Not all of the blame for that can be laid at the feet of the obvious lameness of the Charter, or even the poor leadership of Regime itself. A good chunk of it must also be laid at the feet of the sheer unwieldiness of the civil service mechanisms, systems and effectiveness as they are currently set-up in Fiji.

Puzzled.

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