Freedom of the Press - Fiji (2006)
|Publication Date||27 April 2006|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Fiji (2006), 27 April 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/473451bbc.html [accessed 24 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Legal Environment: 7
Political Influences: 11
Economic Pressures: 10
Total Score: 28
Life Expectancy: 68
Religious Groups: Christian (52 percent), Hindu (38 percent), Muslim (8 percent), other (2 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Fijian [Melanesian-Polynesian] (51 percent), Indian (44 percent), other (5 percent)
The vibrant local press and broadcast media are generally free but face sporadic pressure from a racially biased "indigenous" government as well as political and cultural interests. Fiji's constitution provides for freedom of the press and of expression. Existing legislation empowers the minister of information to order newspapers to publish "correcting statements" and allows authorities to arrest individuals who have published false or "malicious" material; however, these provisions have not been used against the press. A Freedom of Information law is in place, but individuals have reported some difficulty in gaining access to official information. Newspapers are required to register before commencing publication.
Unresolved stresses from the attempted coup in 2000 and an impending general election in 2006 have also put pressure on the media. In April 2005, police pressured journalists working for the country's sole commercial television broadcaster, Fiji Television, to reveal the source of leaked documents relating to police investigations of the coup. Fiji's laws do not recognize protection of sources, and journalists may be held in contempt if they do not disclose sources in a court or law. The International Federation of Journalists, the Pacific Islands News Association, and other media groups condemned the police action. Controversy continued over foreign broadcasters and programming, and a former journalist organized a petition against Desperate Housewives on the basis of a one-off sex scene in a promotional clip before the series was even broadcast by Fiji TV.
The state-run Fiji Broadcasting Corporation operates three main radio stations in English, Fijian, and Hindustani; the state also runs three national newspapers. These compete with two private national newspapers, the Fiji Times and the Fiji Sun, as well as a privately owned FM broadcaster, Communications Fiji Ltd. The Fijian investment group Yasana Holdings holds a controlling 51 percent stake in Fiji TV, while the government owns 14 percent but plans to sell its stake. According to the U.S. State Department, the government has been known to direct advertising to media outlets in which it has a stake. Approximately 7 percent of the population was able to access the internet in 2005, and it remains open and unrestricted.