16 Dec 2004

Pacific media upset with aspects of Australian media initiative

4:12 pm on 16 December 2004

Some major Pacific media organisations are angry at the way Australia is going about setting up its Pacific Media Communications Facility.

Russell Hunter editor of the Fiji Sun newspaper, says his understanding was the AusAID organised facility would provide training for journalists but it has become a vehicle for implementing good governance in the region.

Mr Hunter says the PMCF was to be the successor to the Pacific Media Initiative and focus on training.

"But in the outline of the latest programme I see no training whatsoever. What is happening instead is that a team of people is assessing our needs, which I personally find insulting and a lot of my colleagues do. We are well aware of what our needs are - we do not need consultants from Australia to tell us."

But AusAID's Assistant Director for the Pacific, Margaret Thomas, rejects the criticism and says they are getting a positive response from media.

She says they have conducted 165 interviews in 14 countries.

And we are confident that this helpiing build a comprehensive picture which will enable training and other parts of the programme to be targetted at needs.

Margaret Thomas says they have always been open about the programme's aim to support governance in the Pacific.