Thu, 07 Dec 2023

Solomon Islands extends control over state broadcaster

Robert Besser
08 Aug 2022, 17:28 GMT+10

SOLOMON ISLANDS: In a move that opponents said is aimed at controlling and censoring the media, the government of the Solomon Islands has extended its control over the nation's state-owned broadcaster.

Earlier this week, the government criticized the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, accusing it of a "lack of ethics and professionalism," adding that the state has a duty to "protect our people from lies and misinformation."

However, this week the government said that the broadcaster would not be censored and will retain editorial control over the news.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation chief executive Johnson Honimae said he was proud of the broadcaster's award-winning journalism, adding that it was business as usual for the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

The government's move came after riots in the capital of Honiara last November, followed by a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in December, which he survived.

In late June, the government moved to take control of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation and tried to delist it as a state-owned enterprise, claiming it had not made a profit, which is expected of state-owned businesses.

This week, opposition Leader Matthew Wale said the delisting was "a clear attempt to directly control and censor the news content of SIBC" by Sogavare.

Honimae also told the AP that the broadcaster took critical calls from Sogavare's office in recent months, stating, "They believe we have been running too many stories from the opposition side, causing too much disunity."

"We believe we are a great force for unity and peace in this country," he added, noting that the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation needed to "balance our stories more" and leave no opportunity for criticism.

Sogavare, who is also the government's broadcasting minister, said in Parliament that the government would not tamper with the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation's editorial independence, Honimae stressed.

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