Dear Mr Raj
1. Earlier in the year, you gave a commitment at the World Press Freedom Day panel that you had written to the editors of the newspapers, seeking clarification of their policies on what letters to publish and not.
(a) Could you please tell the public what has been their response and whether MIDA is comfortable with their position.
(b) Could you also please ask all the television and radio stations what their policy is on interviewing experts on public policy issues in various fields (for example, the humble field of economics which all political parties, candidates and voters are focused on currently)?
2. As a “level playing field” is an essential part of the development of a free, fair, competitive and transparent media industry, could you please inform the public what is your position on:
(a) taxpayers advertisement funds being channelled by the Bainimarama Government only to Fiji Sun with The Fiji Times, the oldest Fijian newspaper, being totally denied
(b) outright subsidies given to FBC via government budget and government guarantees of loans from FDB, with no such subsidies given to either Fiji TV or the other radio broadcasters, Communications Fiji Ltd.
(c) the clearly intimidating renewal of the license for Fiji TV on a six monthly basis, while FBC TV suffers from no such restriction
(d) While Fiji TV’s accounts are available to the shareholders, FBC accounts are not available at all to the taxpayers who supposedly own FBC.
(e) Mai TV’s “scoop” at obtaining rights to the broadcast of FIFA World Cup (a legitimate entrepreneurial transaction admired in the business world) being forcibly shared by decree amongst the other broadcasters, on financial terms dictated by the Bainimarama Government rather than negotiated amongst themselves as a market transaction.
3. Given that you (and the PS Ministry of Information Sharon Smith Johns) have often publicly admonished journalists to be “robust” and “boldly investigative” in their work, did you query Fiji TV and the owners Fijian Holdings Limited why respected senior journalist and administrator Mr Anish Chand was sacked from Fiji TV on this year’s World Press Freedom day, because of complaints from the Bainimarama Government (as was related to you during the World Press Freedom Day panel at USP).
Professor Wadan Narsey
You will attest to the fact that on several occasions, I have requested the mainstream media to disclose their in-house editorial policy.
In the interest of transparency, the public should know exactly the rationale behind the publishing of select articles, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, to the exclusion of others. ….
the onus is really on the media to substantiate their claim that they have in place an in-house editorial policy that ensures that the media is balanced, that they are committed to ensuring access and equity and are transparent at all times…..
to date, I have received nothing from the media houses. I am now requiring the media to disclose this.
Appreciate it if you can circulate this e mail to the media. Can we convene an editors’ roundtable soon please?
“While I acknowledge your contribution to public discourse on matters germane to national interest, it is imperative that I am not openly (or otherwise) copied in the quotidian nature your correspondence with the media. …. this act of openly copying me each time you request the media to publish your letters and opinion pieces can be construed as an act of coercion.”
“You might also be aware from my press conference this week that I am requiring all media outlets to disclose their in-house editorial policy. The public or any other concerned entity has the right to know why some letters, articles and opinion pieces get published to the exclusion of others.”
“Please note that the media has the freedom to publish and can equally exercise their right not to publish your letter and MIDA will not interfere in this process. Should you feel that there is a systemic exclusion of your letters, please lodge an official complaint with MIDA”.