FIJI DEMOCRACY GROUP PLOTS OFFSHORE NEWS RADIO

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Seeks support for broadcast from international waters

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 19, 2010) – An opponent of Fiji's interim government wants to set up a floating radio station to broadcast uncensored news into the country.

Usaia Waqatairewa, president of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement, based in Sydney, Australia, says the idea is to put an antenna on a ship anchored in international waters, outside Fiji's legal jurisdiction.

The same concept was used by the so-called pirate radio stations which broadcast pop music to Britain, and New Zealand's Radio Hauraki, in the 1960s.

Mr Waqatairewa told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat people in Fiji need the news that the Bainimarama government is not letting them hear.

He said: "We've got blogs and we've got internet and we also have a regular discussion program every Tuesday night which streams live on the internet, so it can be heard in any parts of the world.

"But the problem though is that internet access in Fiji is very limited at the moment, it always has been very limited. It's probably limited to about five per cent of the population in the urban areas.

"What we're planning to do is to if we could in some way set up a freedom radio that does not have the control of the regime in Fiji and be able to broadcast out the real news, instead of their propaganda and what they have censored themselves."

Mr Waqatairewa says the chartered boat would have powerful antennas able to broadcast to the Fiji audience on the AM and FM frequencies.

Just like the 1960s pirate stations? "Precisely that. We will also broadcast the pop music they banned in Fiji. For example, they recently banned the Te Amo song from Rihanna, which is a favourite among the young people of Fiji."

As for money, he says "we are trying to talk to supporters all over the world. There are a lot of supporters for freedom fighters out there."

Mr Waqatairewa said that on Fiji radio at present "there's about three or four sessions there of just government officials coming in and bombarding the people with government propaganda".

As for any threat by Fijian forces against such a craft: "It's going to be piracy, or it's going to be an act of war."

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