'unbalanced' Fiji interview
From: "Pacific Media Watch nius" <pacific_media_
Date: Fri, July 3, 2009 20:16
Title - 6342 NZ: Pacific radio defends ban over 'unbalanced' Fiji
Date - 4 July 2009
Byline - None
Origin - Pacific Media Watch
Source - Pacific Media Centre, 3/07/09
Copyright - PMC/AUT
Status - Unabridged
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PACIFIC RADIO DEFENDS BAN OVER 'UNBALANCED' FIJI INTERVIEW
AUCKLAND (PMC Niusblog/Pacific Media Watch): A New Zealand-based
Pacific radio network has moved to defuse a controversy over a
Fijian-language interview critical of the Methodist Church and alleged
involvement of some leading clergy in past coups.
Pacific Media Network acting chief executive Tom Etuata told Pacific
Media Centre reporter Pippa Brown that the ban on experienced
broadcaster Bulou Amalaini Ligalevu-Legge had been lifted after she had
been suspended off air following last month's wide-ranging interview
with Citizens' Constitutional Forum executive director Rev Akuila
Yabaki also spoke about the abrogation of the Fiji constitution,
censorship of the media and freedom of expression in the June 6
broadcast, but the programme's criticism of the Methodist Church in the
wake of the regimes cancellation of the annual conference drew three
written complaints to Radio 531pi/NiuFM.
The controversy was picked up by the independent media watchdog blog
Etuata said the radio tried to achieve balance in its programmes.
"She was suspended only from one programme, not from work," he said.
"She is still being employed as an announcer while we investigate and
get an independent translation because we did get a number of
"Our community radio aims to provide both views of the topic and
provide balance as a responsible broadcaster on air."
Bulou Amalaini said the off air suspension was "very unfair".
She denied claims by complainants that she was a supporter of regime
leader Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, saying little information was
coming out of Fiji and she had been trying to provide more insight and
research into political developments.
Formerly of Radio Fiji and with 25 years broadcasting experience, Bulou
Amalaini said: People are too scared to talk, but Rev Yabaki was not too
scared to be interviewed.
Rev Yabaki, who is an outspoken champion of human and constitutional
rights in Fiji, spoke about the Methodist Church after the banning of
the conference, saying Fijis largest and most influential religious
institution was in disarray.
"If you look at the history of the stand that the Methodist Church has
taken in the past 20 years, you will note that it supported the first
coup of 1987 and also George Speight's coup in the year 2000," he said.
"But it opposed the coup of 2006 because it believes that Fiji should
be governed by Fijians, who are their members, as if it were their
"This was the case when Dr Timoci Bavadra and Mahendra Chaudhry's
Labour Party won the general elections of 1987 and 1999."
One complainant to 531pi/Niu FM said: "It would have been fair ... if
Ligalevu [had interviewed] a member of the church in New Zealand or an
official of the church in Fiji on matters concerning the church.
"But to do exactly the opposite does not only degrade the biggest
domination in Fiji but also angers the members of the church who are in
Bulou Amalaini said she had been told by the station management that
"the interview was good but it was not balanced - that I should have
interviewed somebody from the Methodist Church as well".
She said she had asked the head of the Fiji Methodist congregration in
New Zealand, Rev Peni Tikoinaka, to speak on the programme but he had
declined because he said he was not "fully versed" over the issue.
Another Methodist clergyman was also asked but declined.
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