Fiji journalists are celebrating the revival of the Fiji Media Council (FMC) whose new set of officers was announced on October 26.
MIDA has been used to harass journalists and opposition leaders, which undermined press freedom and the country’s democratic space. The Fijian Media Association summarized the notorious legacy of MIDA.
The excessive fines hanging over the heads of the media organisations and editors were threatening, not conducive to media freedom, and designed to be vindictive, punish and control the media rather that encourage better reporting standards.
The new coalition government that was formed after the December 2022 election has vowed to pursue reforms in media legislation, which included the review or repeal of MIDA. In April, the Parliament finally repealed MIDA as authorities also vowed to revive FMC to address issues involving the media sector.
It acts as a platform where people in the media world can talk, work together, and resolve any issues that come up. The Council is also committed to taking public complaints about media content and ethics seriously, making sure there’s a fair and transparent process for handling concerns.
He emphasized the FMC will be an independent body promoting self-regulation and upholding high standards in the media industry.
It is important to point out that the Fiji Media Council will operate independently of government influence, safeguarding its integrity and credibility.
FMC consists of seven public members and seven media companies. Journalists noted that the launch was held at the same venue where the last FMC meeting was held in 2009.
The other thing is for us to move as fast as possible to bring in a complaint committee that can run and that’s one area we will probably look in first.
Fiji Media Association general secretary Stanley Simpson described the launch as a “historic day, a great day for Fiji Media” as he recalled the devastating impact of MIDA.
I think many people don’t appreciate the devastating damage effects of the last 16 years and it became not just raising quality and standards, Its really a matter of survival for many of us.
In an editorial for the Fiji Times, Fred Wesley hailed the revival of FMC as a boost to freedom of expression.
Politicians and people can now ask the tough questions and more freely voice opinions without media organisations fearing prosecution for publishing “against the national interest” or having to run through a minefield of petty rules designed only to control and intimidate.
The newly set up Media Council is there to assist in the mechanics of empowering people, and ensuring the media is held to account as well, serving as a reminder that there are ideals and values of good journalism that we all must uphold.
Timoci Vula is confident that journalists will continue to be critical in their reporting.
Government’s kind gesture does not mean that the media should rest on its laurels and dance to the tune of politicians’ music.
That would be harmful to the health of our democracy and detrimental to the lives of all Fijians.
If one thing, this week’s launch means that the media and journalists now have the chance to grow professionally and we owe it to every citizen of this country, especially those left behind, to uphold democracy, defend freedom and continue to hold our leaders accountable.