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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 11, 2000 – Pacific Media Watch/Fiji’s Sunday Post/Fiji TV/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji's telecommunications authorities under martial law have threatened Fiji Television Ltd. with revoking its operating license over a current affairs program about the political crisis which led to an attack on the station, according to news media reports.

Fiji Television reported the threat on its Fiji One News bulletin on the evening of June 10, 2000 along with a strong defense of the station and its program policy by chief executive Ken Clark.

Fiji's Sunday Post also reported the threat the next morning, saying the station had been "blamed for causing civil disturbance in Suva two weeks ago".

The interim military government's telecommunications director, Josua Turaganivalu, told the Sunday Post the television station's license could be revoked because of the Close Up program broadcast on May 28.

Fiji Television has been blamed for the riot that evening in which the station's premises were raided and trashed, broadcast transmission was cut for almost 48 hours, and a policeman was shot who died several hours later.

The television signals were cut during a legal drama series, "The Practice," and equipment was seriously damaged.

Chaired by Fiji Television reporter Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, the panelists, political commentator Jone Dakuvula, an indigenous supporter of the 1997 democratic constitution, and Communications Fiji Ltd. managing director William Parkinson, were critical of the rebels led by failed businessman George Speight and their three-week-old insurrection.

A mob of between 80 and 200 men, some of them armed, left Parliament shortly after the program was broadcast, firing shots in the streets, and attacked the Fiji Television offices.

Chief executive Clark was reported by the Sunday Post to have said the Ministry of Communication had made a "wide leap between the television program and the riot."

He said on television that he was disappointed with the ministry's position that the television program had "caused" the disturbance.

The Close Up program on the media coverage was appropriate under the circumstances, he added.

Media industry sources described the program as balanced and fair, adding that it was "absurd" to blame television for the criminal acts of a "mob of thugs."

Turaganivalu said the ministry wrote to the station a week ago to ask for an explanation why the station had broadcast the program.

He said Fiji TV had been given until Friday this week to reply but was surprised that the station's chief executive had gone public over the issue.

"We had expected them to write back to us. But [Clark] decided to let the public know about their side of the story first instead of us," he said.

Turaganivalu claimed that the contents of the Close Up item had "clearly breached" a clause prohibiting "such programs," reported the Sunday Post.

"We are still waiting for them to reply, but that program was a clear breach of the rules and that basically means that the license can be revoked," he said.

* Full transcript of the controversial Close Up program on Fiji Television: 


Title -- 2776 FIJI: Fiji TV's license threatened over crisis Date -- 11 June 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- PMW/Sunday Post/Fiji TV, 11/6/00 Copyright – PMW Status -- Unabridged



SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 9, 2000 – Pacific Media Watch/Fiji Sun/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Scavengers at the rubbish dump of Fiji's capital of Suva have stoned and attacked journalists reporting on the economic and social consequences of the Pacific country's three-week-old political crisis, according to a newspaper report.

The Fiji Sun reported in a front-page story in its June 9, 2000 edition that scavengers at Lami rubbish dump were collecting disposed meat for food. A picture published showed the scavengers collecting packs of spoiled New Zealand lamb.

"They became angry when they saw journalists taking pictures and noting down their activities and chased journos," said the Fiji Sun.

"Three journalists, two overseas and one local, ran for their lives yesterday when they tried to take shots of the scavengers.

"Stones were hurled at them. They had to swim across a nearby stream.

"One photographer said the scavengers were actually eating rubbish disposed at the dump," the newspaper reported.

"I also overheard them say that they could just heat up the meat and cook it," the photographer said. "It was the filthiest thing that I have ever seen."

"'There was a dog there but instead of giving the meat to the animal, they packed it up to take home.'"

The scavenging happened just one day after an 11-year-old boy was accidentally crushed to death by a bulldozer as he was collecting refuse.

The Suva City Council yesterday issued a warning to the public who continued to scavenge in defiance of provisions in the Health Act.

On May 19, rebel leader George Speight and gunmen seized elected Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and his government prisoner and have held them hostage in Parliament ever since. Fiji is currently under martial law and economic hardships are mounting daily.

Title -- 2770 FIJI: Scavengers attack journalists at dump Date -- 9 June 2000 Byline -- None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- PMW/The Fiji Sun, 9/6/00 Copyright -- PMW/FS Status – Unabridged



By Alison Ofotalau

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 9, 2000 – Pacific Media Watch/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---A Communications Fiji Ltd. radio reporter came close to being beaten up by rebel supporters of coup leader George Speight, a radio station has reported.

Radio Fiji reported on June 9, 2000 that Malakai Veisamasama, team leader of Viti FM, sister station of FM96, said the mob mistook him for a reporter for the state-owned Radio Fiji.

According to USP journalism graduate Emily Moli, it could not be established what the mob "has got against Radio Fiji reporters."

But Veisamasama said if it had not been for the timely intervention of one of Speight's armed guards, he would have been bashed up.

Veisamasama told Radio Fiji that he was taken aback by the incident, given that he had been one of the few local journalists that had been regularly visiting Parliament.

He said that when he entered the complex to cover Speight's news conference yesterday afternoon, a man singled him out and wanted to know whether he was Samasoni Pareti, one of Radio Fiji's reporters who had been regularly covering Speight's camp in Parliament.

When Veisamasama said he was not Pareti, the man wanted to know whether he was Mika Loga, another Radio Fiji reporter. The man then accused Veisamasama of lying and the man and others started to close in on him.

Veisamasama said the man apologized when he realized his mistake.

Speight's self-appointed deputy leader Ratu Timoci Silatolu confirmed the incident to Radio Fiji.

Silatolu said he went to see the group of men after the incident and explained to them the importance of letting journalists do their work without harassment.

Title -- 2772 FIJI: Viti FM reporter harassed by rebels Date -- 9 June 2000 Byline -- Alison Ofotalau Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- PMW/USP Journalism/Radio Fiji, 9/6/00 Copyright -- PMW/USP/RF Status -- Unabridged


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