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PM's Chief Adviser Wants Zimbabwe Style Media

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RAROTONGA (Pacnews/Cook Islands News): The Prime Minister's chief adviser Piho Rua says Cook Islands Government should use the Zimbabwe media law as a model to control newspapers, Pacnews reports.

Rua said he would recommend to Government that the country's print media be regulated.

On his return from South Africa this week, the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Executive said he had viewed the Zimbabwe Media Act and believed it could be adapted to the Cook Islands media industry.

In an exclusive interview with the Cook Islands Herald, Rua said there was too much inaccurate reporting. It prompted him to seek media guidelines.

Penalties for false or untruthful reporting were non-existent, he said.

"This kind of reporting has to stop."

The reference to media controls follows ongoing newspaper reports that Government had no answer to allegations of abuse and greed other than to conduct "witch hunts" with police investigations.

But while demanding accuracy from the reporters, Rua appears to reserve other liberties for himself and in an effort to refute two items from a weekly gossip column in the Herald, Rua ordered two stories be written by his own media unit.

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The stories appeared unedited on the front-page of the daily Cook Islands News this week.

One story - the front-page lead report - singled out his predecessor, Edward Drollett, as the cause of escalated costs on the Prime Minister's trip to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa.

The media spin was a reaction to a story, which appeared in the Cook Islands Independent exposing a $15,000 bill because of a mix-up in Government's travel arrangements to Johannesburg.

In a separate front-page story, Rua also counteracted the Herald's gossip column by saying publisher George Pitt had "made up" an item about prime ministerial travel as well as another piece on pirating a video tape for the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.



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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