December 22 2010 -- The National Assembly passed a bill yesterday for the creation of the Seychelles Media Commission (SMC), the country's first media regulator for newspapers, broadcasting and online media.
Vice-President Danny Faure presented the Seychelles Media Commission 2010 bill to the National Assembly, saying that the media in Seychelles needed a 'referee,' an arbiter of press-related disputes, which will investigate complaints from ordinary citizens as well as journalists as the independent regulator of journalism practice.
"The Seychelles Media Commission will regulate, promote and protect media in the country...we need a media that is professional and accountable, and which respects the rights of citizens to give their opinion, and also respect their right to privacy... the Commission will also review existing media laws and make recommendations to Government for updating laws in line with the Constitution and developments in the media sector," said Vice-President Faure.
The Vice-President said that some people had criticized the SMC in advance, fearing that it would become a tool of government media 'control' or restriction of freedom of expression, however he assured lawmakers that the SMC would be an independent institution which would have as its responsibility to preserve press freedom, as well as improve journalism standards in Seychelles through the creation of a Code of Conduct, as well as a fair and transparent complaints procedure.
"This media commission will work for citizens rights as well as the rights of journalists to freedom of expression, as is specified in Article 22 of our Constitution. It will also protect our right to have access to information as Article 28 of our Constitution stipulates," said Vice-President Faure.
The Seychelles Media Commission will have a Chairperson and seven other members, all of whom shall be appointed by the President. Five of the candidates will be proposed by the Seychelles Media Association, the National Assembly, the Judiciary, the Department of Information, and the Liaison Unit for Non-Governmental Organisations (LUNGOS).
In 2009, President James Michel called for the creation of a media commission, following an independent report on Seychelles media submitted to President, which reviewed the potential for development and reform of Seychelles media.
The SMC bill was drafted following a year's consultation period, where media, civil society as well as press freedom organisations were invited to contribute towards the bill.
The bill was voted in by all members of Parti Lepep, while all members of the Seychelles National Party abstained from the vote.