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Fiji Information Minister praises media standards

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


INFORMATION MINISTER PRAISES RISING MEDIA STANDARDS

* See PMW item 2901

SUVA (PMW): Fiji's interim Information and Communications Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has praised improving journalism standards in the media industry in a wide-ranging interview with a local daily newspaper.

In a "Hardtalk' interview with the Fiji Sun on 15 September 2000, Kubuabola told reporter Jillian Hicks that the country was gaining more university educated journalists who were better informed and had greater analytical skills.

The reporter asked about journalism standards as a footnote to her interview about Fiji's political crisis. This followed recent criticism of the youthfulness and inexperience of many Fiji journalists and over some coverage of the recent insurrection.

"The standards are improving; we are getting more university trained journalists who are better informed and have greater analytical skills," he said.

"We have more and more experienced journalists - that is good for us.

"There is better understanding of issues and greater sensitivity to local values, protocols and wishes - that augurs well for us.

"But there is always room for improvement, we cannot be complacent."

Asked about planned changes in Fiji media legislation, Kubuabola was cautious.

He said the military-backed interim civilian regime's objectives were limited.

"Where changes of improvements are necessary, consequent upon earlier agreed policies, we will move in that direction, but whatever occurs will be the result of wider consultation," he said.

"Nothing will be improved, no freedom will be infringed. Relationships are a two-way process; I am always responsive and willing to provide answers and information.

"In return, I expect that the administration's views and policies are adequately covered. I am seeking fairness."

* On August 16, Pacific Media Watch reported that Fiji's military-backed interim administration would proceed with plans for a decree for media regulation covering print media and broadcasting, according to news reports.

Fiji Television on August 15 and the Fiji Times on August 16 reported that the interim cabinet established in July after the May 19 insurrection deposed the elected government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry planned a media decree.

The proposed decree was said to follow a 1996 report by Britain's Thomson Foundation which had influenced media policy for both the previous Sitiveni Rabuka and Chaudhry governments.

Kubuabola was Opposition Leader in the deposed Parliament and a key figure in the 1987 military coups.

At least 28 journalism graduates have been produced by the Fiji-based University of the South Pacific journalism programme since it was established in 1994 with a further 20 expected to graduate this year.

+++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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