Six Oceania microstates: The genesis of media accountability
Media accountability systems (M*A*S) have been slow to take root in Oceania. Apart from Papua New Guinea, Fiji is the trend-setter in the region. Following the establishment of the Fiji Media Council in the mid-1990s, several other South Pacific island countries were keen to the follow the lead. Tonga now has a similar body with a code of ethics and which includes public members empowered to receive and adjudicate on complaints against the media. In Samoa, a study has been carried out in order to establish a media council-type body. The Solomons Islands Media Council (SIMC) is an industry organisation that does not yet have a complaints procedure. It is considering including this mechanism in line with the Papua New Guinea Media Council with which it shares a website and has a cooperative agreement. This article examines the debate in six South Pacific island countries that have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, self-regulatory M*A*S mechanisms following government pressure. They are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The article also argues that there are other M*A*S that regional media can adopt besides media councils and this action would make it harder for governments to intervene and introduce regulation.
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