Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fiji's 'rocky ride' back to democracy - a media opportunity?


DAVID BEATSON’S wide-ranging and perceptive current affairs programme Interview was back on Auckland-based New Zealand independent community broadcaster Triangle TV this week. He featured the latest setbacks to the return to democracy in Fiji. Describing the situation as Fiji’s “rocky ride” to democracy, Beatson interviewed Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie. Among other interviews this week, Robie also talked to Radio NZ International’s news editor Walter Zweifel, welcoming an apparent “opening” in the Fiji political debate in the media in spite of censorship in recent years:
A leading New Zealand journalism educator says it is auguring well for Fiji’s future that the media has broadened its coverage of political affairs. 
Working under the tough terms of a number of decrees, Fiji media outlets largely ignored the criticism of the regime decision to dump the draft constitution which it had commissioned last year.
That prompted the Fiji Labour Party to claim that the local media only regurgitated the regime’s platitudes without looking at the accuracy of the statements.

Professor David Robie, who is the director of the Pacific Media Centre at AUT University, says days later after the regime released a decree on political parties, coverage improved.

“When it brings in a decree like this on political parties and expects one political party to dance to a tune of accountability and yet not provide that accountability itself, that seems to have opened the flood gates of open criticism and debate.”

Professor Robie says to have a genuine democracy in 2014, there needs to be a proper political debate, and the media is critical for this.
Meanwhile, Triangle TV will soon be launching a new public broadcasting channel Face Television on Sky and it plans to host a new current affairs programme, Public Interest, presented by Pacific Scoop and Scoop Media former co-editor Selwyn Manning. According to Manning, Public Interest is committed to “analysing issues” at a time when in-depth and investigative programmes are in retreat in New Zealand.  

Public Interest is about promoting ideas that progress New Zealand’s bicultural society while empowering our communities and peoples to reach their potential.”

Strong independent Pacific content is expected to be a feature.

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