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Fate Of Radio Pasifik In Limbo

By Peter Emberson
Journalism student of the University of the South Pacific

SUVA: The fate of Radio Pasifik, the University of the South Pacific's student FM radio station, hangs in the balance as the student leadership wants to pull out.

Student and staff groups keen to keep the 88.8 FM radio open are rallying for support.

It is believed that USP's Media Centre and the journalism programme are considering "rescue" proposals linked to USPNet2000.

Vice-Chancellor Esekia Solofa told the journalism training newspaper Wansolwara he was disappointed that the USP Students Association was "even thinking about" severing ties with the station.

Solofa said he had a personal interest in making the station a success.

But he added that the main reason behind its establishment was to give USPSA and the students an asset to identify as their own - a focal point for cooperation.

"If the students don't value that, then we will have to look for other avenues in which to put this valuable facility to use."

The four-year-old radio station was originally set up by the USPSA as a student initiative.

Steering the attempt to have the station closed down is student president Veresi Bainivualiku - a former Radio Fiji journalist.

He said the station should close as a cost-cutting move and because the radio failed to serve the students on campus.

The USPSA pays $12,000 a year to the university's Media Centre to manage the station.

Late last month, a USPSA meeting was called with the future of the radio station on the agenda.

Secretary Graham Kalmar circulated a letter to the Media Centre and the journalism programme, saying: "As we do not have the expertise or the appropriate knowledge and skills to run the radio station, the new officers are of the view that USPSA should relinquish responsibility in Radio Pasifik."

Representatives of the Media Centre and journalism programme attended the March 17 meeting.

However, the president did not attend the meeting and a proposed resolution was postponed.

Media Centre director Gerald Farkas told the March 17 meeting that after the first year of the radio station's operation, enthusiasm among students "started to wane" - especially close to exam week.

Farkas said the $12,000 paid by the USPSA was "far too little". Often the Media Center was left to shoulder extra running costs.

Senior radio producer Pat Craddock said the radio station was a "great resource and it would be a terrible shame to lose it".

"Around the world many people are frantically trying to get a radio station and they can't because all the airwaves are choked," he said.

Craddock said he believed the radio station could relay its regional news to the USP campuses by the USPNet satellite.

"This would make the station a real regional one rather than just a Laucala campus radio."

Wansolwara was unable to get further comment by the USPSA president.

+++niuswire

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