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Military regime orders sale of Suva daily

By Richard Naidu SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 14, 2010) - Australia’s News Ltd is moving ahead with putting up the Fiji Times newspaper on the market, appointing consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers to advise on "a possible sale."

[PIR editor’s note: The Fiji Times is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s U.S. –based News Corporation.]

In a statement the company said, "PricewaterhouseCoopers will advise on issues such as the value of the business, potential purchasers and marketing for a possible sale. The project team at PricewaterhouseCoopers will be led by Ms. Jenny Seeto based in Fiji. Her team will include personnel based in Fiji and in Australia."

The move comes as the newspaper faces a September deadline to adhere to requirements under the Fiji Media Industry Development Decree for all media organizations to be 90 percent locally owned.

Said News Ltd chairman John Hartigan, "Selling the Fiji Times is not a certainty and it’s not what we want. The environment is difficult but given the decree is clearly designed to force us to sell and pull out of Fiji within three months. We need to actively investigate all our options. Our priority is the welfare of our staff in Fiji and their ongoing employment.

"After our long association with the paper, it would be a sad day if we have to end our involvement in Fiji."

The Fiji Times management is understood to have begun discussing options with staff including the possibility of redundancy packages in the event of closure.

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