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New media rules ‘designed to force our hand’

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 29, 2010) - News Limited chief executive and chairman John Hartigan has expressed doubt that there would be a prospective buyer for the Fiji Times in the face of the provisions of Fiji’s new Media Industry Development Decree.

The decree requires all media organizations in Fiji to be 90 percent locally owned apart from imposing jail terms and fines for journalists, editors and media organizations.

Announcing the revised provisions of the final decree yesterday following consultations with media industry leaders in February, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Fiji Times had three months to comply.

"One of two things is likely to result from this: closure of The Fiji Times or a takeover by a compliant new party by the end of September," Hartigan said in a statement.

Hartigan said News Limited would now explore any options it may have to remain involved in media in Fiji.

"We will fight while we still can but there is no doubt that this move is designed to force our hand in selling the business and pulling out of Fiji altogether.

"This is a very sad day for News Limited, and sadder still for the fine management, staff, readers and clients of The Fiji Times.

"It will also put at risk the jobs of close to 200 people working for us in Suva, Nadi and Labasa, and threaten more than a thousand others whose livelihood is based on selling our newspapers," he said.

No comment has been forthcoming locally from Fiji Times managing director Anne Fussall.

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