Pacific Media Watch

25 February 2015

FIJI: MIDA ruling furore may lead to changes, says Morris

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FMA's Ricardo Morris ... media controversy a catalyst for change? Image: Republika

SUVA (Radio NZ International/Fiji Sun/Pacific Media Watch): The furore over a contested Media Industry Development Authority “ruling” against the Fiji Sun over two newspaper articles may lead to changes, according to the national journalists’ advocacy body.

Ricardo Morris, chair of the Fiji Media Association (FMA), has told Radio New Zealand International that the controversy highlighted several issues with Fiji media regulation and  the 2010 Media Decree, suggesting this could be a “catalyst for change”.

Speaking on Dateline Pacific, he said: “In this case the Fiji Sun does have a point in that decisions being made by one person limits free speech on the basis of what one person rules.

“I think this case will probably bring these issues out to the fore and, you know, bring it out into the public discussion that we need,” he said.

“So I think this will be the catalyst for a bit more deeper introspection into what the media authority is about.”

Both a member of the opposition Opposition Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) who had filed the complaints against the Fiji Sun and the newspaper management have said they are considering filing lawsuits.

Pita Waqavonovono, chair of SODELPA’s youth wing, has called for more people to speak out and join his action against the Fiji Sun.

I'm hoping to take a lot of people along with me. So I'm just encouraging as many people who feel they have been defamed, who feel they have been misrepresented by the Fiji Sun and we're all going to pitch in and take this mega newspaper to court.

MIDA chair Ashwin Raj had made a ruling on February 9 against the Fiji Sun over an “antagonistic” article over the newspaper and Coconut Whispers gossip column item “defaming”  Waqavonovono.

In a report yesterday challenging the validity of the ruling, the Fiji Sun said publisher/chief executive Peter Lomas had said Raj appeared to have made the decision alone without a “properly constituted MIDA meeting”.

The newspaper is strongly supporting its managing editor/news Jyoti Pratibha.

Mr Lomas said Ms Pratibha’s robust reporting is being targeted through a smear campaign and complaints to MIDA by people linked to the Opposition.

The Fiji Sun’s lawyers will be looking at all options in response.

Raj was reported to be overseas.

Earlier story

Fiji Sun defends practices

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