The FijiTV Saga Continues: Still No Clear Explanations

Official Statement by the Attorney-General and Minister for Communications
My Response to this Statement, and an Apology
Article by the Fiji Sun



MEDIA RELEASE : STATEMENT FROM THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL ON FIJI TV 13 June 2012

The following statement was issued by the Attorney-General & Minister for Communications:

Following a request to meet by the Chairman of Fiji TV Limited, Isoa Koloumaira, the Attorney-General & Minister for Communications met with the Chairman on 25 May 2012.
 
At this meeting, the Attorney-General emphasised that as far as news reporting was concerned, Fiji TV, like all other media organisations, needed to adhere to the Media Code of Ethics and Practice and be balanced and fair, not just in form but in substance.

Comment. The 25 May meeting was presumably when FijiTV felt threatened with the non-renewal of its 12 year licence. In  his statement, made nearly three weeks after the meeting,  the  A-G neither confirmed nor denied the threat or its reason, except in an oblique manner.

We still do not know whether there a threat, or its precise reason? Without this detail, I cannot see how FijiTV breached media ethics or acted in an unbalanced or unfair way. My understanding is that it simply allowed former PM's Qarase and Chaudhry the opportunity of a public reply to remarks by Taufa Valatale that were already in the public arena. That I agreed with Vakatale and disagreed with Qarase and Chaudhry is besides the point. Fairness also requires that persons publically accused have a right of reply and, if the persons involved are well known, it is incumbent on the media to publish both sides.
This is part of the code of ethics.

A condition of the Media Development Decree is that complaints against the media should be addressed to the Media Council. It is unclear whether the A-G complained to the Council. As Minister of Communication, the A-G certainly has the authority to refuse a renewal of licence, but if the reason for this is a specific complaint that falls within the ambit of the Media Council, they should at least have been consulted.

In these cicumstances I unreservedly withdraw my posting Disinformation #6, and the inference of  disinformation against Coup4.5, and apologize to those I may have unwittingly mislead or accused.  


--oOo--


FIJI TV SAYS LICENCE BEING RENEWED

By Ellen Stolz

SUVA (Fiji Sun / Pacific Media Watch):  One of the country’s three free-to-air TV stations, Fiji Television, has been assured its licence will be renewed for another 12 years, its chairperson said yesterday.

Isoa Kaloumaira said in a South Pacific Stock Exchange announcement that there had been a lot of speculation and it had created justifiable concerns from Fiji TV's shareholders.

The speculation has been featured in anti-government blogsite Coup 4.5 and has been picked up by a Cook Islands-based regional media activist group, Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF).

Kaloumaira stressed Fiji TV had been given a formal assurance from the Minister of Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, that its broadcast licence would be renewed for a further 12-year term. Fiji TV's current broadcast licence expires on June 30, 2012.

Kaloumaira said that Sayed-Khaiyum wrote to Fiji Television on 14 October 2011 confirming the renewal.

The Fiji TV management has since had meetings and discussions with Ministry of Communications officials on the terms and conditions of the licence.

Information was sought on the ethnic language based programmes and other relevant programme and technical information, he said.

Fiji TV operates its free-to-air station in Fiji and its pay TV service Sky Pacific in Fiji and 10 other Pacific Island countries. 

Fiji TV also owns the free-to-air commercial station EMTV in Papua New Guinea and has approval to launch a station in Solomon Islands.

Kaloumaira said the company continued to play an important role in bringing news, current affairs, sports, information and entertainment programming to Fiji and the Pacific Islands.

In Fiji, it competes with the state-run FBC TV and Mai TV in the free-to-air market and Pacific Broadcasting Services (PBS TV) in the pay-TV market.

Comments

equal= said…
I do believe there should be a 'fairness doctrine' in media. That is, during interviews regarding political issues, it is incumbent of the media to get both parties to the interview.
During the lead up to elections, If there are political advertisements, all political should get equal time- not because of one party has more money to buy more air time.
Anonymous said…
The real story here is that because the government has absolute power of course they can (and i can ensure you they do) make threats. Of course the AG is not going to own up to this and the likes of the FijiSun will always tow the government line.

The other story is that having emposed gagged the media totally for so long they are a little surprise and extremely sensitive to criticism. Government actually started believing their own propoganda.
Paula said…
Why on earth does the AG not come out with a clear statement saying that there was no threat? I speculate that the murky statement he has made is meant as nothing but a threat.
Anonymous said…
Government just don't like the fact there are alternatove views. 5.5 years of control had led them to beleive they had crushed the likes of SDL and Labour. Don't be surprised if they are banned one way or another from the upcoming election. They should be able to get Mahen on money laundering (which is funny given the PM cleared him earlier when it suited him). They have a good chance at getting Qarase as well (which is also funny given the charge relates to years before he was PM...and we all know of Franks own corruption with his salary, which is more here and now).
really ? said…
I see the Land Force Commander is at it again. This time he says no one in the public is scared of the military. Really ????? I think those who have been beaten, abused and even killed are pretty scared of them. Military exercises in Suva are designed to scare people and everyone knows their role in this government os keep the public in line.
Fiji TV Anon said…
A number of things have become clear over the last couple of days and the only conclusion to be drawn is that the regime was in a position to intimidate Fiji TV. We cannot be clear this actually happened however, judging from their past actions with regard to the media it is a safe assumption to make.

The written assurance was given to Fiji TV in October last year. Eight months on they are still waiting for their license. Khaiyum has had months to sort out the license but he still has not done so with less than 2 weeks to go.

This Government has used decrees to target individual companies. Fiji water, Fiji Times, Qantas, Momi Bay, Natadola etc.

Fiji TV has been a target of this Government in a similar way as the Fiji Times. Reporters have lost their jobs because of Government Complaints.

Fiji TV would feel very nervous knowing the Government could close them down if they do not have a current license.

Fiji TV would not have recourse to the courts if the Government closed them down. They would just have to accept it.

FBC is run by the brother of the minister responsible for granting of the license.

This fiasco has reinforced the negative investment climate.

This fiasco has created doubt over the Constitution Consultations being open and free from intimidation and regime bias.

All the above is in the public domain.

Add to that other facts which are not.

The License was approved months ago subject to the Minister’s signature. Why didn’t the minister sign the decree? I know he is busy but even he could have found 30 secs in the past 4 months to do so.

If you do an audit of regime statements versus those of the opposition on the constitution you will see they are already 2:1 in favor of the regime.

The original story may or may not be true but either way the regime it looks like the regime is intimidating Fiji TV.
no no no said…
The Military and governments new spokes person seems to get very upset and any ideas about the role of the military being discussed or talk of the 1997 constitution. This is unfortunate because the role of the military must be discussed and the military must not be seem to be directing the constitutional comission. Further it is reasonable to consider elements of the 1997 constitution. The idea that everything good has to be new is crazy. Again for the process to be credible all views should be aloud.
Lesley said…
Is it the international media who gave this story "legs"? http://www.fijivillage.com/?mod=story&id=140612a37c4466e2ce7920a0c72223
Claims do not have any merit - Fiji TV
Publish date/time: 14/06/2012 [17:10]
Fiji Television Limited has today acknowledged the government’s position on the need for balanced and fair reporting of news by all media organizations including Fiji TV.

Chairman Isoa Kaloumaira said Fiji TV will ensure that it will improve its news reporting and implement measures to overcome any practices contrary to the spirit and substance of the Media Code of Ethics and Practice, as provided in the Media Decree.

Kaloumaira confirmed that he met with the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on the 25th of last month to discuss various issues of concern with respect to news reporting by Fiji TV.

However, Kaloumaira said initial reports that have come out regarding Fiji TV in the international media and the politicization of the issue by the political parties, does not have any merit.

He said none of these allegations have been verified by him nor the board of Fiji TV.


Story by: Vijay Narayan
Anonymous said…
@ anonymous 12.54
"We all know" about the pm's salary? Eh? What do we know? We know that there are allegations made by mad bloggers but isn't the problem that we know nothing about his salary? Woolly thinking Anon!

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