To level the media playing field
Professor Wadan Narsey
(edited version in The Fiji Times, 11 July 2015)
At yesterday’s parliamentary sitting, the Leader of the National Federation Party (Professor Biman Prasad) moved a motion that any fair-minded member of the public would have thought was completely reasonable and should have been supported by both sides of the house, just as several government bills were, on the previous day.
The motion read: “That Parliament agrees that the Minister for Communication through Cabinet immediately review the decision of exclusivity in terms of advertising in one newspaper in conformity to Sections 17, 25, 26 & 32 of the Constitution”.
The motion essentially asked the Government to treat The Fiji Times on the same level playing field as it did the Fiji Sun by placing its advertisements equally in both newspapers.
During the debate, it was admitted by the Fiji Government that in recent years, the Fiji Government had made a decision (documented) to place all its advertisements in the Fiji Sun, and discourage any in TheFiji Times.
As a rough guess, this government bias annually directs more than $5 million to the Fiji Sun, even taking into account the few advertisements placed with the Fiji Times in the last few weeks.
The facts about the newspaper media are that: the Fiji Times and the Fiji Sun are both privately owned; the Fiji Times has as high a circulation if not more, than the Fiji Sun; most readers, and especially the poorer people, cannot and do not buy both newspapers.
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