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DOMINICA: MEDIA GROUPS CONDEMN DRAFT BROADCAST LAW

The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), the Media Workers Association of Dominica (MWAD) and ARTICLE 19 joined forces last week to highlight the danger Dominica's draft broadcast law poses to independent media and to recommend changes to the law.

The media organisations participated in a consultation with civil society representatives, ruling government and opposition politicians, media practitioners and lawyers.

MWAD President Thalia Remy said the group's position against many aspects of the draft law was bolstered by the regional support of ACM and international support of ARTICLE 19, whose participation was facilitated by the IFEX Campaigns Programme.

Dominica's draft Broadcasting Authority Act sets up a new body to regulate licensing and content and dictates general laws in relation to broadcasting. One of the most pressing concerns about the Act is it gives the information minister final say over many decisions, including whether or not to license a new broadcaster or terminate or suspend an existing license. Other worrying provisions in the Act include the following:

- Three of the seven members of the board of the Authority will be appointed by government ministers.

- The Authority's Board will be forced to comply with directions from the Minister regarding policy matters that affect national security, public order and safety.

- Under the Act, any individual or organisation who has been found liable for sedition or defamation is absolutely prohibited from obtaining a license, despite that sedition has been widely discredited as a justification for abuse against the media on political grounds.

To read the review and recommendations that has emerged from this joint consultation, follow this link: http://tinyurl.com/dzmroz

(18 March 2009)

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