FRENCH POLYNESIA CUTS FUNDING TO TAHITIPRESSE

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Government-funded news publication to end in December

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 2, 2011) – The savage budget cuts threatened by the government of French Polynesia have claimed the scalp of public news agency Tahiti Presse.

Funding for Tahiti Presse will cease at the end of December this year.

The agency has been seeking an alternative solution for months, including the idea that it is taken over by the private sector.

But the manager of Tahiti Presse, Thibault Marais, told Radio National's Pacific Beat the closure has been brought out without dialogue or explanation.

"We've been waiting for weeks and months to have a dialogue with the government on how we could go on and reduce the costs again, we haven't had any explanation so far, it's just ‘were sorry,’" Marais said.

[PIR editor's note: In late September 2011, French Polynesia Vice-President Antony Geros, also a communications head in government, officially announced to the Tahitipress board of trustees that, in order to cut spending, the news organization's site would be cut. The vice-president claimed private investors and companies could take over news reporting.]

He said the French Polynesian government should have followed the lead of France, which has made budget cuts to large public departments but continued to fund its public media.

"The thing is the cost of our website is not that much if you compare it to other public departments which could be closed in these days and which are not," he said. "That is why we are a bit surprised by these choices".

And Marais said there is real concern for the diversity of French Polynesia's media. "As a reader and as a citizen wherever you live it is always good to have plenty of sources of information so you can compare and see different ways of talking about an issue," Marias said.

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