IFJ condemns Government threats to Fiji TV

Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 12-06-2012

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its partner, the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF), in condemning the recent threat made by Fiji’s Government that coverage of members of the “opposition” by commercial broadcaster Fiji TV could result in the loss of its broadcasting licence.
According to a PFF report, the order not to broadcast comments or pictures of a regime list of "opposition" people, including Laisenia Qarase, Mahendra Chaudhry, and Felix Anthony came from Fiji's Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum two weeks ago. This followed the broadcast of a Fiji TV news bulletin that included interviews with the deposed Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the Fiji Labour party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry. Both were responding to an earlier story in which Constitution Commissioner, Taufa Vakatale, blamed past politicians for what she said was Fiji's current state.
The regime’s threats were shared with Fiji TV’s management early last week, putting the station on notice that all of the station’s content will be 'monitored' and will influence the decision regarding the renewal of Fiji TV's 12-year broadcasting license, due at the end of June.
“The recent threats clearly indicate that, despite the removal of the previous media regulations and the introduction of a new media decree, press freedom in Fiji remains curtailed by authorities”, IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“The granting of television broadcasting licenses should not be tied to political allegiances or promises to self-censor, in direct conflict with the media’s duty to inform the public.
The IFJ joins the PFF in condemning the latest threats to media independence in Fiji, and calls on Fiji’s authorities to ensure that the decision whether or not to renew the broadcasting license of Fiji TV is made free from political considerations”.