9 Mar 2004

Cook Islands media owner criticises government proposals to control media

1:01 pm on 9 March 2004

The owner of the Cook Islands Broadcasting corporation and three newspapers is criticising what he calls government efforts to clamp down on the media.

George Pitt of Elijah Communications, which runs the CIBC and the papers, says government claims that they do not have a license, are wrong and he says there are more than five years left to run on it.

The government has announced that it is setting up a press council and a broadcasting corporation to determine the future of radio and television services.

Mr Pitt has likened the proposals to recent Tongan actions in restricting the media.

"They think if they can take our license away, or do something in that area, that will punish us for what we write in the newspapers. Radio and television have got nothing to do with the newspapers and everybody here knows that, and understands that. But, because you've got a government that's vindictive and it wants to punish people, that's the kind of treatment you get but we will not take this lying down."

Mr Pitt says the government is reacting this way because it's an election year.