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Honiara denies wanting to control Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, while moving to replace its board

The Solomon Islands government is moving to sack and replace the board of the national broadcaster, but has dismissed claims it is going to take control of its editorial policies.

Concerns have been mounting over the fate of the independence of Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) since it became a fully government-funded entity.

Last month, the government removed the public broadcaster as a state-owned enterprise (SOE), saying its reporting was causing disunity in the country.

The change has paved the way for tightening government control over SIBC’s content.

However, Albert Kabui — the special secretary to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare — insisted that the broadcaster would remain independent.

He said that, by removing the broadcaster as an state-owned enterprise, the government would now be able to make board appointments directly, rather than putting them out to tender.

“We would get to appoint the board members and they can talk to the management level, in line with the broadcasting policy,” Mr Kabui told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program.

When pressed on whether this would allow the government to sway editorial decisions through the board, Mr Kabui denied that would happen.

However, he confirmed the government was already seeking advice from the Attorney-General on how to replace the SIBC board.

“Now that they have been removed as an SOE, the legal status of the appointment is in question,” he said.

“So, that is the advice we would need to get from the Attorney-General and then we’ll move on from there.” ABC

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