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Information Minister Tries To Gag Fiji TV

SUVA: Fiji's military installed interim administration has tried to gag a popular Fiji Television current affairs programme over a planned interview with the deposed elected prime minister of the country, reports one of the country's daily newspapers.

The Fiji Sun reported on 21 October 2000 that the interim administration had "strongly advised" Fiji Television Ltd against having ousted PM Mahendra Chaudhry on its weekly Close Up current affairs programme.

Chaudhry arrived back in Fiji this week amid tight security after touring several countries and advocating a speedy return to democracy under the framework of the multiracial 1997 constitution.

In a letter written to Fiji TV, Information Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola cautioned the company that such a programme would promote "civil insurrection or disobedience".

"This is an event that must be prevented at all costs as it not only could place the company's operations at risk but also pose a danger to the general public at large", the letter said.

"The Close Up programme also does not subscribe towards the fostering of the spirit of reconciliation that is needed at this time."

Fiji TV's head of news and current affairs Richard Broadbridge was quoted by the newspaper as saying that the company had carefully studied Kubuabola's letter and weighed it alongside the terms of its licence.

Broadbridge said that while Chaudhry, whose Fiji Labour Party had won the biggest ever mandate since independence in 1970 in the 1999 general election, had opted out of taking part in the programme schedule for October 22, the station was still seeking an interview with him.

+++niuswire

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