The Fijian Media Association (FMA) says the now repealed Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) Act was a useless, but dangerous and vindictive piece of legislation for the industry.
FMA General Secretary, Stanley Simpson said the repeal of the MIDA Act has long been a unifying demand of all media organisations in Fiji.
“No Government, including this Peoples Coalition Government should ever be given such power over the media. We need to return to the media freedom Fiji enjoyed and was renowned for prior to 2006.”
“The MIDA experiment is over and the draconian legislation now belongs in the dustbins of history.”
“The Act was the worst thing to have happened to freedom of the media in Fiji.”
Simpson said the origins of the MIDA Act began after the 2006 coup that brought a reign of terror, violence, intimidation, censorship, and fear to the country’s media industry.
He said journalists were beaten, detained, and threatened, their media businesses burned, offices trashed, and houses firebombed.
“Media workers that were attacked in some way included Pita Ligaiula, Dionisia Turagabeci, Anish Chand, Merana Kitione, Leone Cabenatabua, Maika Bolatiki, Netani Rika, Sophie Foster, Imraz Iqbal, Samisoni Pareti, Apisalome Coka, Maikeli Radua, the late Sitiveni Moc among many others.”
“Government advertising was taken away from media organisations the Government did not like and senior journalists and editors were forced out of their jobs.”
“A public emergency regulation in 2009 enforced unprecedented and dictatorial censorship, and Government officers entered newsrooms to force journalists to only report what the Government wanted.”
“The censorship then morphed into the 2010 Media decree and then the MIDA Act which has caused uncertainty, stress, mental anguish, and threatened the survival and livelihoods of many media businesses.”
He added that some of Fiji’s best journalists left the industry and as a result the media still carries the mental scars today from that very disturbing period.