Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fiji Times 'buy out' - who are the jackals?

THE jackals are circling around the great Fiji Times carve-up, but no serious contenders have so far emerged. The Australian news group, wholly owned by News Limited, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's US-based News Corp, is still hoping for a reprieve. Although the military-backed regime is insistent that the newspaper must be ready to divest 90 percent of its shareholding to local Fiji interests when the draft media decree becomes law, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there is no need for the country's largest and most influential newspaper to "close down".

Sections of the draft Fiji Media Industry Development Decree 2010 relating to media ownership include:
s36(1): In every media organisation -

(a) in the case of a company, all the directors and in the case of any other legal entity, partnership, joint venture and of an individual, any person or persons holding analogous powers shall respectively be citizens of Fiji permanently residing in Fiji;

(b) up to 10 perce
nt of the beneficial ownership of any share or shares in a company or any interest in the nature of ownership, partial or total, of any other person holding any interest in a media organisation may be owned by foreign persons, but at least 90 percent of the beneficial ownership of any shares or shares in a company or any interest in the nature of ownership, partial or total, of any person holding any interest in a media organisation must be owned by citizens of Fiji permanently residing in Fiji, whether any such interests subsist at the present time or are sought with a view to future ownership.
A key Fiji entrepreneur, Mahendra Patel, has scoffed at rumours linking him to a buy-out of the Fiji Times:
A prominent businessman has denied rumours that his company is interested in leading a buyout of Fiji Times shares. Mahendra Patel, of Motibhai & Co Limited, laughed off rumours that the company was interested in the newspaper.

Speaking from his Nadi office yesterday, Mr Patel said the rumours were news to them.

“We did not even know that Fiji Times was on sale,” he said when queried about the rumours.

“We are not interested and there have been no negotiations whatsoever.”

Australian newspaper company News Limited owns the Fiji Times.

However, under the draft of the Media Industry Development Decree, 90 per cent of such ownership must be held by local interests.
Meanwhile, the Fiji Sun, which editorially takes an opposing view to the Fiji Times and is seen as being more pragmatic and accommodating to the regime, has condemned the Samoan prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, over an "erratic" attack on regime leader Voreqe Bainimarama.
A message should be sent to Tuilaepa not to waste his time commenting on issues about Fiji...

Tuilaepa talks about democracy. Yet he ruthlessly presides over the closest thing in the Pacific Islands to a one-party state.

It takes a brave person in Samoa to take on Tuilaepa’s party machine.
Tuilaepa talks about media freedom.

Yet he shamelessly presides over some of the most draconian media laws in the Pacific Islands.

They constantly threaten freedom of expression in Samoa.

In fact, Tuilaepa still has much to learn, especially about leadership in the region.

Tuilaepa would do well to learn from prime ministers like Papua New Guinea’s Sir Michael Somare, Vanuatu’s Edward Natapei and the Solomon Islands’ Dr Derek Sikua ...

1 comment:

Don't mess with the DD said...

I suspect that the Fiji Times will take a stand, put its workers on the street and mothball the operation until democracy returns. They're entitled to close the paper if they choose. Why would anyone tolerate being forced into a fire sale by an unelected regime? Aiyaz is about to find out what happens when you pull a "fix" on the Dirty Digger. A clumsy, ill considered cock-up.

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