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“Questions for MIDA and Ashwin Raj” also sent as Open Letter to Editor (The Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Island Business) 3 July 2014.

03/07/2014

“Questions for MIDA and Ashwin Raj”  also sent as Open Letter to Editor (The Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Island Business) 3 July 2014.

Mr Ashwin Raj
ChairmanMIDA

Dear Mr Raj

I totally agree with, and support your constant reminder to the public, that MIDA should not be, and is not just concerned about media freedom and/or media censorship, but also the overall good development of the industry, as is clearly indicated by the name, Media Industry Development Authority.

I would be grateful therefore if you would answer the following media development questions, which have been raised directly and indirectly in the public arena over the last year or so, some with you as well.

1.         Earlier in the year, you gave a commitment at the World Press Freedom Day panel that you had written to the editors of the newspapers, seeking clarification of their policies on what letters to publish and not.

(a)       Could you please tell the public what has been their response and whether MIDA is comfortable with their position.

(b)       Could you also please ask all the television and radio stations what their policy is on interviewing experts on public policy issues in various fields (for example, the humble field of economics which all political parties, candidates and voters are focused on currently)?

2.         As a “level playing field” is an essential part of the development of a free, fair, competitive and transparent media industry, could you please inform the public what is your position on:

(a) tax-payers advertisement funds being channelled by the Bainimarama Government only to Fiji Sun with The Fiji Times, the oldest Fijian newspaper, being totally denied

(b) outright subsidies given to FBC via government budget and government guarantees of loans from FDB, with no such subsidies given to either Fiji TV or the other radio broadcasters, Communications Fiji Ltd.

(c) the clearly intimidating renewal of the license for Fiji TV on a six monthly basis, while FBC TV suffers from no such restriction

(d) While Fiji TV’s accounts are available to the shareholders, FBC accounts are not available at all to the taxpayers who supposedly own FBC.

(e) Mai TV’s “scoop” at obtaining rights to the broadcast of FIFA World Cup (a legitimate entrepreneurial transaction admired in the business world) being forcibly shared by decree amongst the other broadcasters, on financial terms dictated by the Bainimarama Government rather than negotiated amongst themselves as a market transaction.

3.         Given that you (and the PS Ministry of Information Sharon Smith Johns) have often publicly admonished journalists to be “robust” and “boldly investigative” in their work, did you query Fiji TV and the owners Fijian Holdings Limited why respected senior journalist and administrator Mr Anish Chand was sacked from Fiji TV on this year’s World Press Freedom day, because of complaints from the Bainimarama Government (as was related to you during the World Press Freedom Day panel at USP).

4.         Can you inform the public what your reaction is to this obvious “intimidation” (to use a euphemism) of a senior experienced award winning journalist, which clearly encourages other journalists to “self-censor” in the interests of their jobs and family welfare?   You might wish to know that well before you became Chairman of MIDA, Anish Chand had also been demoted in 2010 for having friends in the National Federation Party, while another colleague of his at Fiji TV, Merana Kitione, was also removed from her area of expertise and work, for similar reasons.

Yours sincerely

Professor Wadan Narsey
Suva

 

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