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FM96 owner says radio host 'merely speculating'

FM96 owner says controversial radio host 'merely speculating'

* Pacific Media Watch Online: http://www.pmw.c2o.org


FM96 OWNER SAYS CONTROVERSIAL RADIO HOST 'MERELY SPECULATING'

* See PMW item 2972

SUVA (PMW): The owner of a radio station employing a controversial announcer criticised by Fiji's military forces has defended his FM96 breakfast show host as "merely speculating and commenting" on media reports, according to the Fiji Times newspaper.

The Fiji Times reported on 16 September 2000 that Communications Fiji Ltd managing director William Parkinson had confirmed that the military had complained to the station about announcer Tukini Cama.

The military also protested to the Ministry of Information, saying Cama was trying to create a negative image.

"We did receive a letter yesterday [September 14] from the military complaining about the programme content of the announcer," he said.

Parkinson, who is president of the regional media industry group Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), was cited by the newspaper as saying the company was checking on the facts and would reply to the military to give its position.

"If someone has a complaint [against media organisations], then we need to be specific about it. We strongly suggest that they use the Fiji Media Council if the worst comes to the worst," the newspaper quoted Parkinson as saying.

During the peak of the insurrection after failed businessman George Speight's rebels seized Parliament on May 19 and held the elected government hostage for 56 days, Cama was in the spotlight over an apparent quasi-journalist role close to the rebels.

Cama also featured in an incident on a naval boat trying to smuggle himself to Nukulau Island, the makeshift prison near Suva now holding Speight and 20 other rebels charged with treason. He reportedly posed as a relative of one of the prisoners, sparking off debate about ethics in the media industry.

In an editorial on September 16, the Fiji Times said: "Many people find FM96's morning programme host Tukini Cama offensive.

"Many more (for reasons difficult to understand) find him highly amusing, even enjoyable.

"Clearly, the Royal Fiji Military Forces top brass falls into the first category. That's their privilege.

"But this privilege does not include the right or the duty to shut him up."

The paper said there were signs that Fiji's military-installed interim civilian regime was moving in the direction of more media control.

Industry sources told Pacific Media Watch they were concerned about an apparent double standard in some media quarters.

A former FM96 radio announcer said: "After my last arrest [following Fiji's first military coup] by the security forces in July 1987, my employment was terminated without notice or reason. My only 'crime' was my links to the pro-democracy movement in Fiji.

"We wonder if Mr Cama would be sacked if he was a pro-democracy supporter?"

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE: http://www.pmw.c2o.org

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.

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