|Fiji Times chief editor Fred Wesley ... suspended jail sentence. Photo: Media Freedom in the Pacific |
video frame/Cafe Pacific
“Within Fiji's media industry it is expected that this heavy fine will knock the publication out of business,” writes Fairfax’s Michael Field, a long-time critic of the regime. The draconian 2010 Fiji Media Industry Development Decree, although not involved in this contempt of court case, was widely believed to be aimed at the Fiji Times group, especially a punitive curb aimed at divesting foreign ownership to a maximum of 10 percent. This forced Rupert Murdoch’s Sydney-based News Limited group to cut its losses and sell out completely in 2010 to one of the newspaper's long-standing Fiji directors, Mahendra “Mac” Patel and his Motibhai Group.
“Is ‘Mac” Patel a fit and proper person to preside over the stewardship of Fiji’s oldest newspaper, founded in Levuka in 1869?,” asks Grubsheet columnist Graham Davis, a media advocate for the regime, noting the businessman had already served a year-long jail sentence for abuse of office when he was chairman of Fiji Post. “The continuing drama at the Fiji Times still has a long way to go.”