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Annandale, Australia
Suva, Fiji Islands


By Alison Ofotalau, a University of the South Pacific Journalism Student

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 31, 1999 – Pacific Media Watch/Wansolwara/ Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Coverage of the Solomon Islands ethnic tension has continued to flow -- in spite of the gag on the news media.

The regional Pacific Islands News Service carries Solomons coverage as normal.

Chief executive officer Jese Sikivou of the Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association, which operates PACNEWS, told Wansolwara it was able to liaise daily with the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation and other independent news sources in Honiara.

He said both Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand International also covered the issue well.

Mr. Sikivou added that PACNEWS had the opportunity to communicate directly with the Commonwealth special envoy, Sitiveni Rabuka, and the ban had little effect on coverage of the conflict.

The media ban, imposed under the State of Emergency Act on June 28, has been a setback.

Although the state-owned SIBC often faced censorship on individual news items in the past, rarely had journalists and media organizations been sued for defamation.

Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa‘alu's government imposed the ban in what it claimed to be an attempt to prevent aggravating further tension.

The ban threatens journalists who violate state-imposed reporting restrictions with up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to SI$ 5000, (US$ 1,029) or both. Foreign journalists were forced out of the country and public opinion suppressed.

The SIBC was banned from relaying direct live broadcasts from the BBC, Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand International.

As reported by Pacific Media Watch, protests were sent to the government by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and the Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF).

The CPJ saw the media gag as "a flagrant violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees the right to freedom of expression."

Title -- 2331 SOLOMON ISLANDS: Region beats media gag Date -- 31 August 1999 Byline -- Alison Ofotalau

Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- Wansolwara, University of the South Pacific, September issue Copyright -- Journalism, USP Status – Unabridged


*See PMW items 2325, 2317 for background at

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 1, 1999 – Pacific Media Watch/Fiji times/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji Television, Ltd. chief executive Ken Clark, a New Zealander, has been issued a one-year work permit, but with a number of conditions attached.

The Department of Immigration says the company has to give a security bond of $750.

The permit states that 14 days' notice has to be given on the expiry of Mr. Clark's employment contract.

Fiji TV has to train a local [Fiji Islander] for the chief executive's position and the company has to resubmit, within the next 60 days, details of a comprehensive training program for that local.

The Immigration Department says that the permit will become void if there is a breach of conditions.

Mr. Clark declined to comment on the permit. Fiji TV lawyers were not available to comment on whether the contract was accepted.

Fiji Television Chairman Isoa Kaloumaira could not be reached for comment last night.

Mr. Clark was initially ordered to leave the country after the government cracked down on expatriates in media organizations.

He was denied a permit by Immigration on the basis that Fiji TV did not train a Fiji citizen to replace New Zealander Peter Wilson, the former chief executive.

Assistant Minister for Information Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi said Mr. Clark was not issued a substantive work permit because Fiji TV had failed to consult the ministry about employing an expatriate.

Title -- 2333 FIJI: Fiji TV chief issued permit with strings Date -- 1 September 1999 Byline – None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- Fiji Times, 1/9/99 Copyright -- Fiji Times Status -- Unabridged

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