FIJI GOVERNMENT MINISTER IN BID TO HALT TV "SEX AND VIOLENCE"

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 5, 2000 – Pacific Media Watch/Fiji Sun/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji’s Assistant Minister for Fijian Affairs, Ratu Isireli Vuibau, has invoked the government’s controlling stake in Fiji Television, Ltd. in a bid to curb the broadcasting of sex and violence programs, according to the Fiji Sun.

The newspaper reported on February 5, 2000 that Vuibau had instructed Yasana Holdings chairman Olota Rokovunisei to take control of its 51 percent shareholding in Fiji’s sole commercial television station.

The Fiji Development Bank, a fully government-owned subsidiary, has held the shares in trust for Yasana Holdings, whose shares are divided among Fiji’s 15 provinces, including Rotuma, whose "stringent Christian doctrines is the catalyst to programme changes on the dial."

While Christianity is the main religion in the Fiji Islands, particularly among the indigenous 48 percent of the population of 800,000, there are strong Hindu and Islamic minorities among the 46 percent who are Indo-Fijian.

Fiji Television, Ltd. operates the country’s only free-to-air channel, Fiji One, and two pay channels, Sky Entertainment and Sky Plus.

The Yasana Holdings shareholding tenure contract between the Fijian Affairs Board and the bank reportedly expired in January 2000.

The Fiji Sun reported that following the expiry date, "a consensus between the ministry and the board resolved that the Yasana Holdings take over its controlling shares and make its moral stand felt on national issues."

"We have got to put a stop to this (sic) sexual and violent programmes screened on national TV which are usually offensive to our people," Vuibau was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

However, Fiji Television, Ltd.’s chief executive, Ken Clark said, "The board of directors set a broad policy on the present programmes. The direction comes from the board."

The Fiji Sun also reported that Clark indicated Fiji Television "would not buckle" in the face of government pressure.

"That actually is an issue concerning freedom of the press," Clark said.

"We will react strongly to that."

"The newsroom cannot take instructions from government or any government authority."

Vuibau reportedly said, "I’m certain there is an abundance of good family entertainment movies from overseas. Instead, peoples of Fiji with different backgrounds are fed with these types of programmes, which are culturally insensitive.

"We would like to screen quality adult entertainment, family movie, rural industries, educational materials, documentaries, development projects and the like."

Title: 2539 FIJI: Minister in bid to halt TV ‘sex and violence’ Date: 5 February 2000 Byline: None Origin: Pacific Media Watch Source: PMW/FS, 5/2/00 Copyright: PMW/FS Status: Unabridged

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