13 Jan 2012

Inquiry into belated text poll win for Fiji leader

11:01 pm on 13 January 2012

Fiji Television says it will fully co-operate with investigations into a contest which only belatedly declared regime leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama as the winner.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says he has reported the company to the Commerce Commission and Media Development Authority over how the poll was conducted.

The Vodafone promotion involved people being asked to text in who they thought should be newsmaker of the year.

Fiji TV first announced that the head of the Consumer Council, Premila Kumar, had received the maximum number of votes. But a week later, it declared that Commodore Bainimarama the winner.

Fiji media are quoting a letter from Vodafone to the Attorney-General saying Fiji TV failed to take into account pro-Bainimarama texts sent in on 31 December, the last day of the contest.

Ricardo Morris, a freelance journalist in Fiji, says 1500 votes were reportedly lodged on the last day - more than three times the number received by the poll's initial winner.

Mr Morris says Fiji TV has been accused of acting unethically by closing the poll one day before the advertised date.