A colonial construct about to be sorely tested
Can the Pacific Forum learn from ASEAN?

Promote unity, Sogavare tells broadcaster

“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

SIBC newsroom
The newsro/om at Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

| 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.

Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Sogavare - "SIBC is expected to conduct its business in such a manner that instils unity amongst our people"

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.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

William Dunlop

I guess the old scenario of our man in Havana can now be brought forward in time to our Pekinese lap dog in Honiara. Woof, woof.

Lindsay F Bond

Cohesion is discrete from unity.
Cohesion is opportunity to care.

Chris Overland

Requiring the media to 'instil unity amongst our people' is all too often code for 'do not criticise the government even if this is warranted'.

In Australia, the LNP governments have been notoriously critical of the ABC because, as they see it, the management and journalists are biased against the conservative side of politics.

They have sought to either control or punish the ABC in various ways ranging from attempting to stack the Board with conservative sympathisers through to imposing unjustified budget cuts.

All of these moves are straight out of the authoritarian playbook as demonstrated by Donald Trump's stacking of the US Supreme Court with reactionary judicial thinkers and the even more egregious activities of people like Vladimir Putin in Russia and Recep Erdogan in Turkey.

Both of the latter have systematically removed any critics from the major state institutions, especially the public service, the military, the media and the judiciary.

This has ensured that these basic institutions are entirely beholden to and supportive of the government and, in particular, the leader.

Consequently, Sogavare's comments must be regarded with a certain amount of scepticism.

That said, there is some validity in what Sogavare is saying. It is very important that any criticism of the government is based upon facts and constitutes fair comment.

This is important to preserve the credibility of the media. If the audience detects obvious bias this not only damages the media but democracy as well.

For example, the obvious conservative bias of the Murdoch owned media in Australia has resulted in a greatly diminished credibility for its various outlets.

This was reflected in the recent election campaign where its sometimes strident support for the Morrison government appears to have been ineffective in influencing voters and, possibly, counter productive.

Governments are always going to have an uneasy relationship with national broadcasters: politicians tend to love them whilst in opposition but feel much less well disposed towards them when in government.

William Dunlop

Another smiling thief, Sogavare.

Who omitted in his prattling; What's yours is mine, and what's mine is my own.

Well and truly bought and paid for by his new master, Communist China, whilst our Australian Socomo was engrossed in his now exposed super duper harem scarem ministers for everything.

Reminds me of the Jo Bjelke Petersen bid for Canberra, whilst his minister for everything Hinze busied himself.;

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)