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'Groundbreaking' TV Samoa Live Debate Exposed

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APIA (Pacific Media Watch): A claim about a planned Televise Samoa live debate at a recent Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) workshop marking World Media Freedom Day at Madang, Papua New Guinea, has come under fire, according to news reports.

Televise Samoa news editor Merita Hutch claimed at the PINA workshop hosted at Divine Word University that a "groundbreaking" debate between Samoan government and opposition politicians was scheduled by the state-owned television station.

But, according to a Tala Nei News report, the debate never happened.

Televise Samoa's chief executive officer, Faiesea Lei Sam Matafeo, was quoted by the Samoa Observer newspaper as saying "Merita does not speak on behalf of TV Samoa.

"There was never any arrangements made and we never made a commitment to such a project."

However, according to Tale Nei News, Journalists Association of Western Samoa (JAWS) president Faumuina Lance Polu told the Observer: "Faisea and I discussed the debate at her office and she gave me full support and TV Samoa's commitment to the project.

"Since I had to leave for overseas two days later, Faiesea told me to leave it to her to arrange everything."

Matafeo, in a letter published in the Observer, said the debate idea was not taken up because firstly it was short notice.

"Secondly, we did not have air time and personnel available," she said.



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