Thursday, August 03, 2006

Broadcast Standards Bill

Bill to set broadcast standards Wednesday August 02, 2006

A Bill to monitor standards in the broadcast industry has been approved for tabling in Parliament.

The Broadcast Licensing Bill 2006 seeks to establish a Broadcast Licensing Authority to regulate Fiji's broadcasting industry in both radio and television.

Making the submission to Cabinet, Minister for Information and Communications, Isireli Leweniqila. explained that the move to set up a Broadcasting Authority was a direct response to concerns raised over the years about the need to monitor standards in the broadcast industry.

"At present there is no legislation to provide for qualitative controls for commercial radio and television except the regulatory functions concerning the licensing of broadcast spectrums for commercial radio and television broadcasters.

"The Broadcasting Authority will operate with the Ministry of Information and Communications as its secretariat and revenue earned will continue to be paid into the Consolidated Fund of Government."

Leweniqila said that the authority would issue, renew and regulate licensing of various types of broadcasting.

"It will establish Codes of Conduct for programming, for advertising and for technical aspects for the purposes of the Act and monitor compliance by broadcasters."

Leweniqila said the authority would establish a system for orderly planning in relation to the use of broadcasting frequencies through the development of a Broadcasting Frequency Plan.

"The authority will also hear complaints on breaches of licence conditions and on the codes of conduct and hear appeals and issue sanctions and penalties for offences wherever necessary."

Leweniqila further explained that the Bill would seek to regulate broadcasting in Fiji to promote the upholding of the Constitution, as well as human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

"It will protect and promote freedom of expression, encourage creative national broadcasting, and license public, private and community broadcasters.

"The Bill will promote a diverse range of quality broadcasting services which serve all of Fiji's language and cultural groups.

"It will enhance the public's right to know through promoting pluralism and a wide variety of programming of matters of public interest, prevent monopolisation of ownership and promote fair competition in the broadcasting sector and accurate, informative and balanced programming.

"The provision of quality educational programming will be encouraged and the widest possible geographic distribution of broadcasting services, including licensing national and local broadcasters would be promoted."

He said the Bill would also develop and promote broadcasting reflecting national and regional culture and identity, promote the appropriate use of new technology, and enhance the overall financial and competitive viability of broadcasting in Fiji.

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