SOLOMONS MEDIA REJECT GOVERNMENT MEMO

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Called ‘outrageous’ attempt to control coverage

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 17, 2008) - The country’s main radio, TV and newspaper organisations today rejected Government efforts to control how they report the Constitutional Congress meetings this month.

An urgent meeting of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) executive board unanimously condemned demands made by the Government’s Constitutional Reform Unit.

Members said a memorandum of understanding the unit wants signed is designed so it could be used to give the Government control over how journalists report the congress.

The news executives said the Constitutional Congress is an important part of the democratic process in this country. And all the people of this country should have full access to information about it.

To ensure this the news media should be free to report it openly and fully for the people, they said.

MASI president John Lamani said the MASI executive board found the unit’s demands unprecedented, outrageous, unacceptable and naive.

Mr Lamani said no news media organisation would sign such a document giving potentially sweeping powers over how journalists report on the congress.

Mr Lamani urged the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to immediately withdraw these demands and to allow free and open reporting on the congress.

The news media executives said none of their organisations will sign the document the unit sent this week. This unit comes under the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The unit said the news media had to sign this so-called "memorandum of understanding" before they would be allowed to report on the Constitutional Congress.

The Constitutional Reform Unit has no right to give itself powers over news media reporting and journalists, the MASI executives said. Whoever was responsible for this attempt obviously knew little about the news media.

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