NEW FIJI SUN NEWSPAPER PLANS BIG IMPACT ON MARKET

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By David Robie

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 11, 1999 – Pacific Media Watch)---A third daily newspaper is about to be launched in the Fiji Islands and is expected to strongly challenge the two existing papers with state-of-the art technology and fresh ideas.

The Fiji Sun, named after an earlier newspaper, which closed after the 1987 military coups rather than publish under a self-censorship regime, will target the market dominance of the Murdoch-owned Fiji Times.

Media observers believe the liberal use of color and lively editorial concepts could have a similar dramatic impact on Fiji publishing as the Malaysian-owned National had on the Post-Courier, another Murdoch-owned paper, in Papua New Guinea in 1993.

Fiji's second daily newspaper, the Daily Post, which has a government controlling interest, has less than a quarter share of the local market.

The Fiji Sun's management is cautious about a publication date for the new paper, but it is expected to begin publishing by the end of August.

A color lift out publication, The Fiji Sun TV Guide, the first of its kind in the country, began publication earlier this month.

Editor-in-Chief Connie Chew said she expected an eight-page business lift out would be a major draw card for the new newspaper.

"No paper has really treated business journalism seriously so far in the country," she said.

"Our strong features section will also be appealing with coverage of the hard issues of the day. We won't just be relying on fluff and stories from overseas."

Chew said the lift out television guide on Sundays would also be a strength.

"We believe our newspaper will be very different from the existing papers--it will be refreshing."

Publisher Tony Singh said, "We will have a far smarter product than any other print publication in Fiji."

He said the Fiji Sun title had been revived because "many people will relate to us in the marketplace."

Singh added that "quite a few" of original Fiji Sun staff, including him, is now involved in the new paper.

The newspaper is using a four-color Goss Community press and expects to print a 40-page tabloid weekdays, and 52 pages weekends.

A former marketing manager of the Fiji Times, Singh is publisher and a shareholder in the new company, Sun Fiji News Ltd. Other shareholders are C J Patel and Co Ltd., Vinod Patel and Co Ltd. and Fijian Holdings Ltd.

The previous publisher of the Fiji Sun, Newspapers of Fiji Ltd., owned by Sally Aw Sian, chairwoman of the Hong Kong company, Sing Tao Holdings Ltd., and New Zealand publisher Philip Harkness, withdrew from Fiji after the second coup in 1987.

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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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