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Radio Fiji Bans Ads On 1997 Constitution

Media Freedom Curbed; Radio Fiji Bans Ads On 1997 Constitution

Issue No: 266 7 December 2000

The government owned radio station, Radio Fiji, has banned advertisements on the 1997 Constitution.

This was revealed to the Fiji Blue Campaign committee when the Radio Fiji refused to run paid advertisements in support of the 1997 Constitution. The Radio Fiji said that the advertisements did not "conform to guidelines" laid out by the station.

According to today's Fiji Sun, the Acting CEO of Radio Fiji, Francis Herman wrote to the Fiji Blues stating that no reference must be made to the 1997 Constitution until such time the appeal and subsequent legal proceedings are disposed of. He also stated: "There should be no reference to the legality of the interim administration until the legal issue is finalised. The FBCL reserves the right to refrain from broadcasting any material which it considers would incite racial ill feelings, cause civil unrest or is defamatory in nature".

The Fiji Blues campaign is a Coalition of business organizations, trade unions, and ngos standing for the 1997 Constitution. (See: http://www/pcgov.org.fj/archive/2000-10/no97.htm on Fiji Blues). It had planned for another Fiji Blue day for this Friday.

Radio Fiji has been under immense pressure lately from the regime. Herman, together with 2 other journalists, were detained by the military some weeks ago for running a news item that the military could not accept the Vice-President to act as the President when the President was to be away for medical treatment.

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More recently, the station was reprimanded by the regime for having People's Coalition Minister for National Planning comment on the regime's budget. In this case, the station was refused a press pass for the analyst to the budget delivery hall, and it was also asked to replace a taped analysis of the budget by the minister with pro-budget statements. The replacement found was the station's own Financial Controller who stated that the budget was good for the poor people.

The station, which has been one of the more professional and unbiased media outlets during the past months, is now plagued with collapsing staff morale due to the constant interference by the regime.

END 7 December 2000

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