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Fiji TV Protests To President About 'Fairness'


Fiji Television Protests To President About 'Fairness'

By Alison Ofotalau USP Journalism Programme

SUVA: Fiji Television has lodged a complaint with President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara calling on fairness to both local and foreign journalists entering the Parliament complex - where the elected Fiji government is being held hostage - to report on the current current political crisis.

Richard Broadbridge, head of news and current affairs of Fiji Television Ltd, told Pacific Journalism Online that on Sunday Ratu Mara issued a directive barring the Fiji TV news team from entering Parliament with their cameras.

"We are not comfortable with the President issuing a directive specifically against Fiji TV while overseas television crews continued to enter Parliament with their cameras," he said.

Broadbridge said it was an individual ban and he could not understand the reason behind the President's directive.

Fiji Television has scored several exclusive interviews with key personalities during the crisis, including Great Council of Chiefs chairman and mediator Sitiveni Rabuka on an early morning jog.

Government House officials were not immediately available for comment.

Journalists from other Fiji news organisations have expressed satisfaction over their coverage of the five-day-old crisis.

FM96 reporter Kavai Damu said his team has put out good coverage so far.

He said the ban yesterday by the President on local journalists entering Parliament did not really affect the day's coverage.

Damu said they were disappointed though on not being able to cover the Great Council of Chiefs meeting. But he added that he could understand this because it was a meeting everybody hoped would have a direct result on the hostage crisis.

Fiji Daily Post associate editor Mesake Koroi said his team had been focusing coverage on the economic complications that were going to affect the country in the near future.

He said his team was not so interested in the events happening at Parliament and the empty media conferences that were being called by rebel leader, George Speight.

"We don't worry about George Speight because he is history now," he said.

"We mainly talk to business people on how they're trying to recover what they lost, how the economy is going to be affected, and how it will be recovered."

Koroi said the local indigenous people would be affected most by the crisis, including $30 damage in damage to shops and looting last Friday.

He said most business people he had talked to expected to be able to rebuild their damage and burnt shops within three weeks.

"These business people have the money and they can rebuild their lives together again in no time at all," he said.

"But it is the very people who have been gathering support for Speight at Parliament and the local population who will suffer the most for a long time."

The Fiji Daily Post was not able to publish for three days after civil takeover of government because reporters and staff had been having problems with transport to get to work.

The paper resumed publication yesterday.

Radio Fiji reporter Sanjesh Narayan said the state-owned network's coverage had generally gone well despite reporters being hassled at Parliament gate.

He spoke of an incident that occured sunday evening when a couple of shots were fired while reporters were cueing into the gate, and they told to lie on the ground.

"I was scared because anything can happen. It must be understood that these people are terrorists," he said.

But he said the Radio Fiji news team was able to freely cover news events as they developed.

A Fiji Times reporter, who asked not to be named said, the paper had provided an exlusive coverage on the crisis since it started, and reporters were able to report on the stories they have been following.

* Fiji Web Sites for information on the insurrection:

http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/ - Pacific Journalism Online: Reporting, pictures from University of the South Pacific's student journalists - and analysis from USP staff

http://www.fijilive.com - Fiji Live: Breaking news from 'The Review' journos - SOMETIMES OUT OF ACTION.

http://businessnews.com.fj - ALTERNATE SITE FOR FIJILIVE!

http://rugby.com.fj/coup/ - ANOTHER ALTERNATE FOR FIJILIVE!!!

http://fijivillage.com/ - Web site linked to FM96 and 'Fiji Times'.

http://www.pacnews.org - PACNEWS Pacific News Agency Service.

http://www.pinanius.org - Pacific Island News Association's Pina Nius Online.

Other good non-Fiji sites:

http://pidp.ewc.hawaii.edu/pireport/ - Pacific Islands Report at East West Centre, Hawaii

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PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, and Pactok Communications, in Sydney and Port Moresby.

(c)1996-2000 Copyright - All rights reserved.

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