14 May 2009

Fiji plans to use media for own end, document shows

10:20 pm on 14 May 2009

Fiji's interim regime intends to use the media for its own purposes, a document obtained by Radio New Zealand shows.

The document of the meeting, chaired by Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni, shows the military government plans to sign an agreement soon with Fiji Television for a government channel which would broadcast for two to seven hours a week.

The document shows the regime also plans to sign an agreement with the Fiji Sun newspaper to include a 12-page weekly report about the policies and programmes undertaken by the interim government.

The document says the interim government plans to continue its control of Fiji media by introducing a media law decree when emergency regulations expire in June.

The regulations stipulate that Fiji media only publish stories that cast a positive light on the interim government.

The regulations were first imposed on 11 April.

Journalist, church leader detained

Another journalist has been detained in Fiji over a published story.

The Fiji Times says Labasa-based journalist Theresa Ralogaivau was taken in by police on Thursday morning. She has been allowed legal representation.

The story, published on Monday, is believed to be about a community in Labasa being terrorised by a group of drug growers.

A Radio New Zealand International correspondent in Suva, Matelita Ragogo, says the story quotes a police spokesperson who now denies that he spoke to the journalist.

Ms Ragogo says the story was passed by the censor at the Fiji Times head office.

Meanwhile, police in Fiji confirmed they have detained prominent a church leader whom they say flouted the emergency regulations.

Director of police operations Waisea Tabakau told local radio that Rev Manasa Lasaro has been doing very suspicious things that warrant police investigation.

Rev Lasaro, a conservative nationalist and former president of the Methodist Church, supported the indigenous Fijian cause in the coups of 1987 and 2000.

He has been at the forefront of the Methodist Church's opposition to the coup in December 2006.