14 May 2009

NZ media calls for boycott of Fiji

8:29 pm on 14 May 2009

The head of the Newspaper Publishers Association is calling for New Zealand to boycott Fiji, as the interim government's media censorship gains momentum.

The interim regime has extended its emergency regulations for another month and now warns censorship of the Pacific nation's media could continue indefinitely.

Five journalists have now been detained in Fiji for reportedly breaching the regulations, which stipulate only positive coverage of the regime is allowed.

Documents leaked to Radio New Zealand also reveal the Fiji government plans to use media to promote its initiatives.

Newspaper Publishers Association chief executive Tim Pankhurst says it is disturbing that Fijian leaders are unapologetic about restricting freedom of the press and that they see the move as a good outcome.

Mr Pankhurst says the most effective way of opposing the regime's actions is to hurt it financially by not holidaying in Fiji.

He says New Zealand's Media Freedom Committee will discuss the censorship on Friday.

The head of Canterbury University's journalism school says media outlets and unions must take a strong stand against the "horrifying repression" of Fiji media.

Jim Tully says news organisations and unions outside of Fiji need to emphasise the importance of journalists being free to serve the interests of their community, not a regime.

Mr Tully says the situation is a tragedy for journalists trying to fulfil their role as champions of free speech in Fiji.