Report – By Pacific Media Watch
Veteran journalist and regional news media manager Matai Akauola has been appointed director of Fiji’s Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA).
Akauola is expected to take up his new appointment next month, according to FBC News.
He is currently manager of the Suva-based regional Pacific Islands News Association.
Akauola has previously worked in radio, television and print media as a sports journalist, editor and news manager.
The Media Industry Development Authority was established with the promulgation of the Media Industry Development Decree (MIDD) in 2010.
The authority aims to improve the media’s objectivity and discipline, according to FBC News.
The New York-based research NGO Freedom House, said the Media Industry Development Authority has the power to enforce the media decree and investigate possible violations.
In its 2012 report on Fiji, Freedom House reported that the “threat of harsh repercussions inherent in the MIDD has led to a degree of self-censorship by the country’s news media”.
The decree established that journalists whose work is deemed to be against “public interest or public order” were punishable by a fine of up to NZ$640 or imprisonment of up to two years. The penalty for any media company that breaches the decree may be as high as NZ$64,000.
However, the authority also has a commitment to developing vernacular media in Fiji, long neglected in favour of the English-language mainstream media.
Source: Pacific Media Watch 8417