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FIJI: Appeal court allows TV cameras

FIJI: Appeal court allows TV cameras

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Appeal Court Allows TV Cameras

SUVA (Pacific Media Watch): Fiji television viewers are able to watch unedited footage of a court in action for the first time during the historic Court of Appeal sitting over a constitutional case.

Fiji Television Ltd yesterday won permission to broadcast the proceedings in the appeal case involving internal refugee farmer Chandrika Prasad who had claimed last year's post-coup interim regime had violated his human rights.

Justice Antony Gates had ruled last November that the 1997 multiracial constitution was still valid in spite of the May 2000 coup and the interim regime was illegal.

The military-imposed administration has reportedly put aside a $F200,000 budget for its legal bid to have this ruling overturned in an appeal being heard by five judges from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

Fiji's Daily Post reported on 20 February 2001 that the television company made a successful application in chambers on February 19, delaying the court hearing by at least an hour.

The newspaper said Fiji TV's head of programming Richard Broadbridge was proud the company had been allowed to cover the week-long hearings in the heavily guarded court building.

Highlights from the first day's hearing were also shown on Fiji TV on the evening of February 19.

The court reportedly gave permission to film the court hearings provided that:

* Fiji TV took no close up shots of members of the public in the gallery, and

* The order was subject to further orders or directions as the court considered necessary.

In his affidavit, Broadbridge said there was widespread interest in the case with "far-reaching national implications".

"I have received many inquiries [about] whether Fiji One would be covering the appeal hearings from both local and overseas news organisations," Broadbridge said.

"It is not my or the company's intentions to make a spectacle of the appeal hearings.

"The actual appeal is a historic event and one which is newsworthy. Fiji One's only interest is disseminating information in televised form of the actual appeal hearings."

According to the Fiji Times on February 20, another reason Fiji TV had submitted the request was the fact that although the case was of national interest, there was limited space for the public, and because of security reasons, only a handful of people were allowed to sit through the hearing.



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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