10 Jul 2018

Nauru's ABC ban will leave Islanders in the dark: Palau media

8:08 pm on 10 July 2018

The Palau Media Council says Nauru's ban on a public broadcaster attending this year's Pacific Forum will impede the flow of vital information to the region.

Nauru's government last week announced it was banning Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalists from attending the Forum leaders' summit it will host in September.

Pacific media in action.

Pacific media in action. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The government, which has offered opportunities for only a restricted number of overall journalists to attend the Forum, accused the ABC of false reporting about Nauru.

Echoing Pacific regional media outrage over the ban, Palau representatives have urged the Nauru government to reconsider its ban.

The Council's Kambes Kesolei said while Nauru's government may have issues with the ABC, it's decision to ban would impact on the ability of people in Palau and other Pacific Island states to find out about the discussions their respective governments have while at the Summit.

According to Mr Kesolei, a large portion of the Pacific Islands community would be left in the dark about Forum issues.

"The media from Palau don't have the resources to send people to come and attend the meetings, or to come and report the meeting proceedings," he explained.

"So we depend on the big radio organisations like Radio Australia who have that reach, so we in Palau can know or follow up on ideas that are being addressed in the Pacific Islands Forum."

Mr Kesolei, who is the editor of Tia Belau, and associate editor of Pacific Islands Time, said Palauans were very disappointed with the decision by Nauru's government.

"The Pacific Islands Forum is the pre-eminent regional organisation, and we from the north Pacific, the south Pacific, the islands, depend on it for so many programmes, from the University to the environmental programmes to the fishery. And a lot of those issues are very important to be discussed at the PIF Forum.

"We're not going to have that information that we want if the Nauru government blocks Radio Australia from covering (the Forum). The media should be free to cover meetings and events in the region," he said.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat says that while Nauru has stated its concerns about media reporting, the Forum has always stood by the principles of free and open media.

The Secretariat said while it supported media freedom, the press also had a responsibility to be factual in its reporting.

It said it vigorously defends the right of any sovereign country to make its own decisions about the ways in which it chooses to govern, and it is committed to working with government of Nauru and the media to ensure the best possible outcome.