Pacific Media Watch

24 November 2014

FIJI: Media authority changes tune on 'racism' allegation

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MIDA's Ashwin Raj ... backed off allegations against RNZI. Image: PMC File

AUCKLAND (Radio NZ International/Pacific Media Watch): The Fiji media watchdog has changed its racism allegations put to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The chairman of the Media Industry Development Authority, Ashwin Raj, recently told the UN both Al Jazeera and Radio New Zealand had apologised for and retracted stories about the Fiji election he said were racist, unbalanced and inaccurate.

Alex Perrottet reports the accusation of racism has now changed:

"Radio New Zealand's CEO, Paul Thompson, wrote to the UN to say there was indeed no apology for any racism, imbalance or inaccuracy. Mr Raj has now told Radio New Zealand that it was not racist in its reports, but that Al Jazeera was. He has not responded to questions on whether he could have been more accurate in his reporting to the United Nations.

During the election week, RNZI made minor changes to some stories, but editors stress the content removed was factual and done to appease the authority, following threats over its journalists' accreditation. One story was on the Fiji public broadcaster's apparent breach of electoral laws, an issue that has still not prompted any official comment from Mr Raj."

Fiji media freedom and the role of MIDA are topics for a number of speakers from Fiji at this week's "Political journalism in the Asia-Pacific" conference at AUT University opening on Thursday.

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