26 Aug 2020

Fiji broadcaster denies it pulled interview due to govt pressure

9:02 am on 26 August 2020

Fiji's state broadcaster says the decision not to air an interview with the leader of a self-described "movement" was made well before a government directive was issued.

The FBC, Fiji's government-owned broadcaster.

The FBC, Fiji's government-owned broadcaster. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told villagers during a talanoa session in Tailevu, he had ordered various broadcasters to stop airing the debates between a 'spiritual' group and Christian organisations in the country.

Bainimarama said he was concerned the discussions taking place during the debate would confuse religious groups.

Fijian Broadcasting Corporation's Chief Executive Riyaz Sayed- Khaiyum said the FBC did not broadcast the interview due to controversial material.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the prime minister's comments had nothing to do with the FBC's decision.

FBC Television had pre-recorded the interview with the leader of the Lotu Vanua or First Nation Spiritual Revival Movement.

The interview was also previewed on FBC TV and was scheduled to be aired on 16 August.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the discretion to air programmes lay solely with the broadcaster.

We did an interview earlier in the week and they made a promo about it too, he said.

"Every show that we record goes through review and after we reviewed it, they saw some material that maybe a bit sensitive and may offend some people so that is why they decided to take it down," he told the Fiji Sun newspaper.

"We are aware that as the national broadcaster we must be careful about airing programmes that do not help the sentiments of other people."

Saiyed-Khaiyum said while he understood many people looked forward to watching the interview, it had to be cancelled.

He said sometimes content recorded did not make it to air.