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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 28, 1997 - PACNEWS)---The annual convention of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) opened in the Vanuatu's capital of Port Vila Sunday with a plea from Acting Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope for governments and media organizations in the region to work together.

He said the media are very important to the overall process of national development. He encouraged governments and the media community to work together to use journalistic resources for the public good.

Sope said the theme of this year's PINA convention, "Politics, Culture and Ethics in the Media," is a highly relevant and challenging topic, one related to the regional developments taking place now.

He said too often governments especially have been very reactionary towards the contributions of the media to national development.

In his address, Sope called on the media to change from its "current not-so-supportive image of government to establishing a development partnership with government for the benefit of the people of the region."

Sunday evening's annual general meeting of PINA elected a new executive board. The members, their officer positions, or the media they represent are:

Some concern was expressed by PINA members that the new executive board does not include any women.

The last board had a woman President, Monica Miller of American Samoa, whose fight for press freedom in region was praised by many association members, and Anna Solomon of Papua New Guinea.

Meantime, the annual general assembly of PIBA, the Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association, ended its sessions in Port Vila on Saturday with a resolution calling on the Australian government to reinstate recent cutbacks in Radio Australia, saying the downgrading of services to the Pacific Islands threatens the free flow of information in the region.

PIBA also announced that its 1998 general assembly will take place in Niue.


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