Friday, April 09, 2010

NZ's acting PM admits concern over Fiji media decree


The news organsation Radio Live says the acting Prime Minister Bill English is expressing concern at news of further restrictions being placed on media in Fiji.

Self-appointed Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama has released a series of decrees that media experts are labelling anti-democratic and highly oppressive.

Offences include criticising the Government and failing to run bylines in newspapers.

In an interview with Radio LIVE this morning Bill English was hesitant to say too much on the move, but admits it is a worry.

“We’d be concerned about a media crackdown in Fiji. It does look consistent with how the regime does business, but we need to get a clearer idea of what they’ve actually decided before we actually comment,” he said.

The Newspaper Publishers' Association chief executive and NZ Media Freedom Committee secretary, Tim Pankhurst, has been more direct with his criticism saying the media decree is clearly aimed at totally muzzling an already repressed media.

"It is disturbing that the regime is now moving to cement in place emergency regulations imposed a year ago that have seen censors installed in newsrooms," he said.

"Highly oppressive restrictions will be entrenched under a proposed Media Industry Development Decree 2010 that makes military strongmen the arbiters of independent, quality journalism.

"It not only targets editors and their journalists. Any members of the public brave enough to express dissenting views are also in line for crippling fines, ill treatment and jail."

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