Solomon Islands broadcaster ‘free’ despite signs of government censorship

The station, which began as the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service, has been a staple of the country for 70 years.


Employing about 50 people and operating under the slogan ‘Voice of the People’, the institution is a major source of radio and television news for a population of 700,000, and is located in a small area out of the capital. All the way down to the village, they are heard and seen.

In late June, the government delisted SIBC as a state-owned company and moved to take more direct control, saying it had failed to make the profits expected of the state-owned company.

Opposition leader Matthew Wale said Wednesday that the delisting was a plan orchestrated by Sogavare as “a clear attempt to directly control and censor SIBC’s news content.”

“This hijacks well-established legal principles on defamation and free speech and deprives ordinary citizens of using SIBC to freely express their opinions and access information about government activities.” Wale said.

Debris lies on the street outside a damaged store in Chinatown, Honiara, Solomon Islands, after the November 2021 riots. credit:APs

Honimae told the Associated Press that the station has received critical phone calls from Sogavare’s office in recent months.

“They believe we are getting too much talk from the opposition and causing too much discord,” Honmae said.

Honmae said the station and its staff have won several journalism awards from the Solomon Islands Media Association this year, including Newsroom of the Year and Journalist of the Year.

He also said the station started broadcasting at 6 am every day and played the national anthem when the broadcast ended at 11 pm.


“We believe that we are a great force for unity and peace in this country,” Honmae said.

Honmae added that we need to “balance our story” and leave no room for criticism.

He said Sogavare, who is also the Minister of Broadcasting, said in parliament that the government would not tamper with the editorial independence of the broadcaster.

“There is no censorship at this time,” Honmae said. “We operate as professional journalists.”


Solomon Islands broadcaster ‘free’ despite signs of government censorship

Source link Solomon Islands broadcaster ‘free’ despite signs of government censorship

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