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NZ Pen Protests Over Threat To Fiji Television

* See PMW items 2808, 2805, 2802, 2801, 2776, 2772, 2770, 2741, 2740, 2739, 2738, 2737, 2735.
Fiji TV May 29 Close-Up transcript:

SUVA (PMW): The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) has protested to Fiji's telecommunications authorities under the interim military regime over a threat to revoke Fiji Television's licence over a programme linked to a violent attack on the station last month.

The station, which broadcasts the Pacific country's only free-to-air television channel and two pay channels, was attacked and trashed on the night of May 28 following a Close-Up panel programme which discussed media coverage of the hostage crisis.

Rebel leader George Speight was strongly criticised in the programme, especially by one panellist. An armed mob attacked the station, causing a reported $500,000 worth of damage and cutting transmission for almost 46 hours.

The letter on 19 June 2000 to Telecommunications Director Josua Turaganivalu, signed by PEN president Jean Rosier Jones and chair Gordon McLauchlan, the NZ Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) "urges you and your staff not to frustrate the free flow of information through the media during the present political crisis in your country.

"We understand that you have threatened to revoke Fiji Television Ltd's broadcasting licence because a current affairs programme provoked an attack on the station by terrorists at present holding political hostages. It is extraordinary that a media organisation should be penalised because terrorists violently objected to programme content.

"We believe the right to convey information to the public and to express opinions based on that information will be critical to the future of your country. While we understand the difficulties Fijian society faces at the moment, we hope you will take a stand for freedom."



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