“We struggle to hold this country together,” Sogavare said, stating that SIBC had been broadcasting news based on misinformation and deliberate lies that had caused anxiety in the public
| Island Sun - Pacnews
SUVA, FIJI - Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare has accused the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) of deviating from its purpose of uniting the country.
Responding to a question in the Solomons parliament, Sogavare said SIBC is a statutory body and service provider that continues to receive funding from the government.
“As a national broadcaster, SIBC is expected to conduct its business in such a manner that instils unity amongst our people,” he said.
“However, in recent times, that was not the case.
“We came up with this national broadcasting policy in 2015 that clearly outlines what is expected of the national broadcaster: bring the country together, unity, issues that this country grapples with.
“We struggle to hold this country together,” Sogavare said, stating that SIBC had been broadcasting news based on misinformation and deliberate lies that had caused anxiety in the public.
He said the government had not been given the opportunity to respond to this misinformation and lies.
“The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has brought this up with the Board and CEO of SIBC, but to no avail.
“I had personal discussions with the CEO and officers and discussed with them that some issues they are broadcasting are dividing this nation - but to no avail,” Sogavare said.
He said SIBC must abide by its code of ethics and national broadcasting policy.
Quoting the Society of Professional Journalists, Sogavare said:
Public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.
Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.
The Society declared four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encouraged their use by all people in the media.
The four principles are to seek truth and report it, minimise harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent.
Sogavare quoted former United States President Franklin D Roosevelt, who said:
Freedom of the press is essential to the preservation of a democracy; but there is a difference between freedom and license.
Editorialists who tell downright lies in order to advance their own agendas do more to discredit the press than all the censors in the world.
Sogavare also quoted former New York Times publisher, AG Sulzberger:
Perhaps we ought to ask ourselves just what freedom of press really is. Whose freedom, is it?
Does it guarantee the right of the publisher to do what he wishes, limited only by the laws of libel, public order and decency?
Is it only a special license to those that manage the units of the press?
The answer is of course is no.
Sogavare also said the Solomons cabinet had agreed to establish government newspaper but SIBC will still operate under Broadcasting Act as it has been doing since 1978.