The Human Rights Protection Party

What is Good for Apia is also good for Savaii!
"O le mea e lelei i Apia, e lelei foi mo Savaii"

Jul 17

Media body for the people, says PM

Leilani Tuala-Warren, Samoa Law Reform Commission

Government has been waiting for years for the local media to set up a media council, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi revealed this week in the wake of a government initiative to set up a national media complaints body.

“Some years ago, Sano (Samoa Observer editor-in-chief Savea Sano Malifa) came and spoke to me about it. They also brought over a media expert from the U.K to set it up. It has been years now and nothing has happened.

“They will not do it because they believe a media body will be a hurdle to their business, a barrier to their profits. But every country in the world has media counsels and media legislations.”

The Prime Minister said government – through the Law Reform Commission – has now taken the initiative to set up a media monitoring body for two reasons.

“At the moment, people who have complaints against the media have two supposed options. They either send their complaints to that specific media who in turn ignores it, or, they sue them through a lawyer. Many lawyers will charge them a $100,000 and demand $30,000 upfront, the price of an airplane. That about crosses out any option for people who have legitimate complaints against the media. So in essence, the proposed media body provides an avenue for people to take their complaints about the media to.”

The Prime Minister said government was particularly concerned with the amount of misleading information being put out on the international wire by newspapers like the Observer.

“There’s a lot of rubbish being posted on the internet by the Observer about how things supposedly are in Samoa. That in turn misleads our people overseas and the international community.

“That is the nature of these newspapers. That is how they make their money. By putting up big misleading headlines and publishing distorted stories that uninformed and unknowing folks – especially overseas – latch onto.”

The Prime Minister said New Zealand’s Broadcasting Standards Authority is a good example for Samoa to emulate in planning a media monitoring authority.

“We’ve sent two complaints to the NZ BSA. It’s an excellent avenue for people who feel they have been unfairly treated by a media broadcast or publication.”

The Prime Minister said he has often been misquoted in the past by the media, especially the Samoa Observer. Meanwhile, the Law Reform Commission continues to carry out public consultations with media stakeholders in the country.

Author: Tupuola Terry Tavita of Savali
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