15 Mar 2007

Fiji journalist says they are self censoring news stories

8:04 pm on 15 March 2007

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation says journalists are working under duress in an environment of self-censorship.

The public broadcaster made the comment after a fellow media organisation pulled a chat room off the Fijivillage.com website, which criticised key figures in the military-backed regime.

Vijay Narayan, the news director of Communications Fiji Limited, and the managing director, William Parkinson, were called in by the military yesterday then spoken to by police officers from the new Anti-Corruption unit over comments posted on the site.

It's believed it contained foul, racist language and derogatory remarks about the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama and the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

By mid-afternoon the link from the homepage to the forum called FijiVillageTalk had been removed and by the evening the entire forum had been shut down.

One of the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation's news editors, Ioane Burese, says journalists are working under duress.

"The situation is tough and I like to think that the key word in how we are operating now is really self-censorship."

Mr Burese says journalists expect to operate in that environment for several years, until democratic rule is restored.