|Pacific Media Watch|
Regime accuses Radio NZ, Fairfax journalist of 'bias'
Title -- 5399 FIJI: Regime accuses Radio NZ, Fairfax journalist of 'bias'
Date -- 28 March 2008
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- Stuff website (Fairfax Media)/The Press 27/03/08
Copyright - FM/TP
Status -- Unabridged
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FIJI REGIME ACCUSES RADIO NZ, FAIRFAX JOURNALIST OF 'BIAS'
CHRISTCHURCH (Stuff/The Press/Pacific Media Watch): A Kiwi lawyer working for Fiji's regime has issued a formal complaint against Radio New Zealand and a Fairfax journalist, saying their coverage of the country is "deeply biased".
Fiji Solicitor-General Chris Pryde, a Christchurch lawyer appointed to the top role last year, made the written complaint to the New Zealand Press Council.
It referred to a March 7 interview by Nine to Noon host Kathryn Ryan with Fairfax Media's Pacific affairs correspondent, Michael Field.
The Press Council said yesterday that it had forwarded Pryde's letter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).
Fairfax Media owns The Press and several other newspapers, including The Dominion Post in Wellington.
"The (March 7) update was no more than an uneducated, ill-informed, deeply biased, unbalanced and false account of events in Fiji," a copy of the three-page document said.
"Mr Field is not resident in Fiji and his information source appears to come from websites and blogs.
"As a New Zealander residing in Fiji who does know the facts, unlike Mr Field, I am deeply concerned at the continual slanted and untruthful reporting of events in Fiji by sections of the New Zealand media, particularly Radio New Zealand."
Field is banned from Fiji and was deported last year after arriving there on a reporting assignment.
A BSA spokeswoman confirmed the complaint had been received.
She said the process now allowed a 21-day period for Radio New Zealand to consider the complaint and respond directly.
If Pryde was not satisfied, the BSA would consider it further.
Pryde told The Press he had been "outraged" by the March 7 programme.
"Apart from some silly giggling in the background, Kathryn Ryan didn't challenge Field on anything," he said.
Radio New Zealand spokesman John Barr said the complaint would be properly considered.
However, he noted Field was not an employee of the state broadcaster but a commentator expressing an opinion.
Field said yesterday Pryde was entitled to his views.
Fairfax Media was not named in the written complaint, but group executive editor Paul Thompson said it was unlikely to stop Kiwi journalists from scrutinising the Fiji administration.
"This is an unusual complaint from the appointee of a disreputable regime," he said.
"It attempts to draw a veil of respectability across the reality of what is happening in Fiji, where civil liberties, press freedom and the rule of law are all being trampled after the military coup. Part of the problem is that the regime's restrictions are making it difficult to discern exactly what is happening there."
Pryde said there was a lot of hostility towards Fiji from New Zealand's government and media, which "seem to mirror each other".
Pryde said he was not fazed by working for what some regarded as a pariah state.
"It is certainly not in the category of Zimbabwe ... I'm not morally responsible for the actions of my client," he said.
Pryde said he felt shunned by New Zealand officials as a result of his appointment in Fiji.
"I have no contact at all with the New Zealand High Commission. Certainly they ignore me when they see me. So I suppose that can be classed as disapproval," he said.
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