13 February 2014 (Noumea, New Caledonia) – Participants attending the workshop on media self-regulation in the Pacific at the 3rdPacific Islands Media Summit reiterated the need to educate journalists about the role of media and the importance of self-regulation; to overcome divisions among media at the national and regional levels; and to keep the momentum and consultations around media self-regulation going.
Workshop participants discussed the preliminary findings of a feasibility study for a regional media self-regulation mechanism. The study had been commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF). It has been prepared by Dr Ian Weber, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Journalism Programme at the University of the South Pacific.
Speaking to participants, Ricardo Morris, Pacific Freedom Forum’s Regional Coordinator said that the idea of a regional media self-regulation body came out of discussions during World Press Freedom Day celebrations in 2012. He added that “this is an option for the media to make a decision on….rather than simply saying it can’t be done we would like the media to discuss what the implications are with regards to a regional self-regulation scheme.”
The overall objective of the feasibility study is to enable an informed discussion among media stakeholders about self-regulation mechanisms at the regional and national levels with a view to exploring viable options for regional media stakeholders to consider as part of their discussion.
As part of the feasibility study, a survey was conducted that collected perceptions of media self-regulation from media stakeholders in 10 Pacific Islands countries – Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Solomon Islands, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The feedback revealed common priorities across the region such as training for media professionals and the need for public awareness on self-regulation. The feasibility study is expected to be finalized by April 2014.
Participants who attended the Pacific Media Summit also heard the perspectives on self-regulation from media practitioners during a panel discussion. Panelists included Mr Matai Akauola, Director of the Fiji Media Industry Development Authority; Mr Keni Lesa, Editor of the Samoa Observer; Mr Kalafi Moala, Taimi Media Network in Tonga, and Dr Weber.
Kalafi Moala called for the need to take cultural diversity that shapes media and the dynamics within the media into consideration. Keni Lesa from the Samoa Observer noted that factionalism was the biggest stumbling block to advancing self-regulation and he stressed the need for national mechanisms to form the basis for a regional scheme. Matai Akauola noted the need for self-regulation to be owned in country and that Fiji was pursuing a different path from other countries in the Pacific with the establishment of the Media Industry Development Authority.
In conclusion, Dr Weber noted that “regional and national self-regulation mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and there are specific issues and functions that pertain to either mechanism.”
UNDP and the United Nations Communications and Partnership Group are supporting the 3rd Pacific Media Summit.