Nov 14, 2018 Last Updated 5:29 AM, Nov 14, 2018

Fiji calls for media bids

by Anish Chand

Media organisations in Fiji which are to tender for government printing and broadcasting services have to show examples of commitment to national unity, national identity development and nation building.

Tenders for the publication and broadcast of government notices for the financial year 2018-2019 is now open.

The Fiji Sun newspaper was awarded the publication tender last year while the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited won the broadcast tender.

The tender documents that are now available online also outline a number of stringent checks that media organisations have to provide.

“Please provide details of any contempt proceedings, litigation actions of claims regarding unfair, unbalanced and inaccurate reporting, defamation or any breach of the Media Industry Development Act 2016 in the past 6 years,” reads the tender document.

Part of the contract with the publishing media company will be the requirement that “the bidder shall arrange for the publication of corrections at its own cost in the next publication”

“If the service of the bidder is unsatisfactory, government reserves the right to terminate the contract at anytime without notice at its sole discretion,” the tender document states.

As part of the tender requirement, bidding newspapers are required to provide circulation numbers for each day per division.

Radio and TV stations are required to provide details of their frequency reach and coverage.

The tender closes on 15 August 2018.

A win for Fiji Times

Fiji’s High Court in a landmark decision last month cleared the Fiji Times of sedition charges and declared its three newspaper executives free men.

The fourth accused, a letter writer to the newspaper’s Fijian language weekly, Nai Lalakai was also acquitted.

Although the office of Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions wasted no time in announcing it was appealing, Justice Thushara Rajasinghe’s 27-page judgement does offers some clarity on what constitutes sedition and what does not.

He had relied on a 1992 Fiji Court of Appeal case between the state v Mua, at which the presiding judge panels of Fiji Court of Appeal President, Mr Justice Michael Helsham, Sir Moti Tikaram, and Mr Justice Gordon Ward elaborated on what sedition is.

“The purpose of the offence is to prevent any unlawful attacks on the tranquillity of the State but it is not intended to prevent legitimate political comment. Deeply held political convictions frequently provoke strong emotions but there is authority to show that even strong or intemperate words or actions may not demonstrate a seditious intention if done with the purpose of expressing legitimate disagreement with the government of the day in terms of paragraphs (a)-(d),” Judge Rajasinghe quoted from the Fiji Court of Appeal judgement.

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Media freedom under attack

WITH the trial of three newspaper executives underway in Fiji in May on charges of sedition, the assault of a newspaper journalist in Papua New Guinea, the removal of the general manager and her news manager at the Tonga Broadcasting Commission and the re-introduction of libel laws in Samoa, press freedom is coming under severe attacks in all regions of the Pacific.

A survey by Islands Business reveal disturbing signs to silence or control the work of independent and free media in the islands, with most of these attacks orchestrated by public agencies. Equally alarming is the absence of a public outcry or condemnation from the media and the general public alike.

Long-time Pacific media commentator and journalist now director of the Auckland-based Pacific Media Centre and convenor of Pacific Media Watch, Professor David Robie believes media freedom in the Pacific has never been under severe stress as it is today.

“Ironically, in this digital era of social media and with a multitude of alternative and independent information sources and platforms available, mainstream media has faced a decline in media freedom. Notably two of the Pacific countries with the largest and strongest media industries,Fiji and Papua New Guinea, have faced a steady “chilling” in their discourse. Increasingly in PNG, for example, the public and journalists themselves are turning to independent and respected blogs for trusted and “real” information.

There is a mainstream media silence on many issues, especially the under-reporting of social justice issues, the plight of refugees after closure of the Manus detention centre, climate change, and West Papua.”

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New voices for Pacific broadcasters

THE Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is once again making changes that will affect broadcasting into the Pacific. From 22 January, ABC’s Radio Australia (RA) will introduce a new Pacific Mornings programme, between 6am to 10am. In a significant change, the programme will be hosted by two women of Pacific island heritage, Seini Taumoepeau and Tahlea Auliitia.

RA’s flagship news and current affairs programme Pacific Beat will be reduced to 25 minutes, with the morning show hosted by Catherine Graue and the afternoon slot maintained by long time broadcaster Bruce Hill. The changes to RA’s broadcasts come after ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie introduced a major restructure of the national broadcaster.

These changes have seen the break-up of domestic radio and TV services, with key staff reallocated to three new divisions:

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Making news in death

Obituary ROSALYN ALBANIEL EVARA 1976 - 2017

IN death, Papua New Guinea journalist, Rosalyn Evara, has shone the spotlight on an issue which often escapes notice in regional news coverage – violence against women. A victim of domestic violence for several years, this outspoken woman highlighted daily the ills of the nation and was regarded as an advocate for justice and good governance.

Evara was respected by colleagues, the public and legislators alike for her professionalism and fearless journalism which often exposed the darker side of business in PNG. Trained at the highly-recognised Divine Word University, she began her journalism career at Word Publishing before joining the Post Courier in 2002. Working through the ranks and the major news centres of Lae, Madang and Port Moresby, this promising journalist became bureau chief and later business editor at the News Limited-owned Post Courier.

At 41 when she died suddenly, Evara was on track to becoming the first female editor of one of the region’s largest and most influential newspapers. But behind the professionalism , national recognition and success lay an awful secret which many Pacific women journalists also hide. 

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