Wednesday, June 1, 2011

[pima.nius] 'Think Fiji first' regime call must first 'Free Fiji media'-- PFF

12:15 PM |


Via PFF

Colleagues, the www.pacificfreedomforum.org site has been updated with
the following information. Thanks for your publication, use and
sharing with other networks as relevant.

begins --

PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS -- Regional media monitoring body the
Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF, has challenged the Fiji regime to free its
own media first as the best solution towards achieving their latest
instruction to Fiji media to 'Think Fiji first.'

PFF responded to the Fiji regime's press conference this week
featuring a statement by Information secretary Sharon Smith-Johns
calling on all journalists there to 'Think Fiji first' and report in a
'fair and balanced way'.

"The statement is ironic, coming from a regime which has basically
done its best to ensure that our media colleagues are mostly only able
to report what the regime -- not news editors -- deems as fair or
balanced," says PFF's Susuve Laumaea.

"It's clear in Fiji's case that balance and fairness are defined as
content which lets a leadership avoid scrutiny and debate over its
decisions. Sadly, that's not unique to Fiji or the Pacific. Gaps in
perceptions between political leaders and journalists over what a free
media does and whom they serve will always be a key challenge for
media freedom," says Laumaea, of Papua New Guinea.

He and PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa invited
Smith-Johns and the regime leadership to consider allowing a team of
Pacific journalists to visit Fiji and discuss these issues with
colleagues and the regime.

"Such a group would be able to have a dialogue with the Ministry of
Information on how the tools for journalism are better applied when
the laws allow journalists to do their jobs and report freely and
fairly," he says.

The 'Think Fiji first' call from the regime has come in the wake of
reporting over the defection to Tonga by former regime and military
insider Ratu Tevita Mara, son of the nations founding Prime Minister.

The call follows other media developments in recent weeks which have
shown how the Media Decree is taking its toll amongst Fiji's media
ranks. The Fiji Times website, averaging three quarters of a million
hits a month, went offline without explanation on April 18 and its
Managing Editor Fred Wesley had only this week confirmed that the need
to meet the requirements of the Media Decree had forced its
suspension. Decree clauses on cross ownership are also casting more
media jobs into uncertainty, with employees for Mai Life Magazine
affected by the looming deadline by which founder Judith Ragg must
relinquish her founding stake in the magazine because her husband
Richard Broadbridge leads Mai TV.
"The cross ownership clauses have worrying implications for media
convergence issues and raise more questions than answers, " says
Miller.

"Overall, the issue that's clearly emerging from all the confusion and
uncertainty is that efforts to gag the media via decree, censorship,
or constant press conferencing over controlling definitions of balance
and fairness are not working. Fiji will once more come 'first' when
its media are free-- there's no simpler way to say it."--ENDS


LINKS:
Full statement by Sharon-Smith Johns, PS for Information, Fiji:
http://www.fiji.gov.fj/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4195:statement-by-ps-smith-johns-think-fiji-first&catid=50:speeches&Itemid=168

Fiji Times Online 'upgrade' behind suspension
:http://www.pmc.aut.ac.nz/pacific-media-watch/2011-05-29/fiji-offline-fiji-times-makes-digital-upgrade-comply-media-decree

Mai Life on market:
http://www.pmc.aut.ac.nz/pacific-media-watch/2011-04-30/fiji-mai-life-market-comply-media-decree

CONTACT: PFF interim Chair Susuve Laumaea | Sunday Chronicle Newspaper
| Papua New Guinea Mobile: 675-684 5168 | Office: 675-321-7040 |
Email: susuve.laumaea@interoil.com PFF interim co-Chair Monica Miller
| KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 |
Email: monica@khjradio.com The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional
and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the
specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of
Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free
and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link
between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory
governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific
Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the
above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and
bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and
international community.

--
Lisa Williams-Lahari
Media Freelancer
Regional Coordinator, IFJ Pacific Media for Democracy and Human Rights
Project
Ph Mobile: 677-7574230
Skype: lisalahari

* "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter."-- Martin Luther King Jr.  *

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aotearoa, new zealand
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