Sat - 20.01.2018

Fiji's regime orders Murdoch to sell Fiji Times, or face closure

Fiji's regime orders Murdoch to sell Fiji Times, or face closure

Fiji's military regime has given The Fiji Times, which is own by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited, three months to change its ownership or close.

The newspaper reported on its website that, under the Media Industry Development Decree that came into effect today, media outlets must be 90 percent owned by Fijian citizens that reside in the country.

"Any media organization which fails to comply with this requirement shall cease to operate as a media organization," said the head of the attorney general's office, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, as he announced the measures that also allow the regime to censor articles deemed threats to national security.

In a press conference, the attorney general pointed to the News Limited newspaper as the only media that needs to comply with the ownership requirement, explained The Fiji Times.

However, in an interview with Radio Australia, Sayed-Khaiyum said the measures do not force Murdoch's company to close the newspaper as it has several options to consider.

"One of the major ones, obviously, [is that] they can sell down the foreign content to local owners," he said.

Nonetheless, News Limited Chief Executive John Hartigan called the decree "an appalling assault on free speech... designed to force our hand in selling the business and pulling out of Fiji altogether," Dow Jones, also owned by News Corp, reported.

Hartigan also pointed out that if the Fiji Times closes, its 180 employees would not be the only ones to lose their jobs, as the newspaper indirectly employs more than 1,000 workers.

Since 2006, when Fijian leader Frank Bainimarama led a military coup, the media has been struggling as the government has tightened controls and censorship.

Three months ago, when the decree was announced, Sayed-Khaiyum described Murdoch's newspaper as "the purveyor of negativity, at least for the past three years," recalled the website

News Limited is News Corp's Australian subsidiary and it has owned The Fiji Times for 23 years.


Clara Mart


2010-06-29 00:04

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