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Fiji Television labels documentary 'unbalanced'

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FIJI ONE LABELS DOCUMENTARY 'UNBALANCED'

* See item PMW3469

SUVA (Pacific Media Watch): Fiji Television will not be airing new local documentary by Senator 'Atu Emberson-Bain and Michael Rokotuiviwa Preston because the company "feels that it's not up to journalistic standard", reports the Sun newspaper.

But independent broadcasters rate the documentary In the Name of Growth highly. It was broadcast by Australia's multicultural Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) network and has also been aired on Fiji's Community Television (CTV).

Co-directors of CTV Regina and John Yates praised the programme makers for "beginning a new era of exciting documentaries" in Fiji.

The programme, latest produced by the award-winning Infocus Productions partnership between Bain and Preston, has been nominated in the best documentary category at this week's 21st Hawai'i International Film Festival.

In the Name of Growth focuses on working conditions in the late 1990s for women cannery workers at PAFCO (Pacific Fishing Company) at Levuka on Ovalau Island. Critics have praised the programme for its insights into globalisation on marginalised communities.

The Sun reported on 9 November 2001 that Fiji Television head of news and programming Richard Broadbridge said the broadcaster had reviewed the documentary but it did "not qualify with the journalism principles" and it was "not balanced".

"While we congratulate them on the documentary and that it has been nominated for international awards, we don't feel it qualifies," Broadbridge said.

"We look for balance in a story [when] we are going to air. The documentary must be factual. We felt this documentary lacked this."

Broadbridge told the Sun that apart from one telephone inquiry, public demand for the documentary to be aired on television had been nil.

In a statement to Pacific Media Watch on November 8, CTV's co-directors said:

"CTV congratulates Dr Bain and Michael Preston. In the Name of Growth was well received by our viewers and we're delighted to have documentary makers who can elevate the quality of programmes to new levels.

"Atu and Michael working in Fiji are beginning a new era of exciting documentaries."

Fiji Media Watch's coordinator Swasti Chand said she hoped Fiji Television would reconsider its decision.

"It would be a great idea to have it screened on Fiji' Television so that our own people are able to view a local production," she said.

"I am hopeful that Fiji TV will reconsider its decision and air it."

+++niuswire

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