The National, Thursday October 17th, 2013
By SHEILA MALKEN
FIJI Television Ltd (Fiji TV) will conduct its usual business amid plans by the PNG government to introduce new rules on media ownership.
Fiji TV chief executive Tevita Gonelevu told Islands Business news that its PNG subsidiary EMTV had been “privately informed” of the government’s intentions.
“From the PNG government side, there have been indications that they would want changes in the ownership of the company by enacting a law, something like the Fiji media decree, where ownership would be majority-owned by locals,” Gonelevu said
“The board of Fiji TV is aware of this fact and in the next few months, we will be working closely with stakeholders in PNG to find the right path.”
He said the TV network did not want to exit from PNG because it believe it would bring much more value into the PNG media market.
“The Fijian government has got similar legislation on media ownership and the stance of Fiji TV would be comply with all legislation on the media in whatever country we operate in,” Gonelevu said in response to Islands Business question on whether Fiji TV had attempted to seek the help of the Fijian prime minister in protecting its investment in PNG.
Research by Islands Business showed that the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s Trade Agreement (MSGTA) covered trade in goods only for now.
Therefore, the proposed PNG media ownership law does not break the MSGTA and member countries can still protect certain industries from foreign competition by putting them in the ‘negative’ list.
Deputy director general of the MSG Secretariat Peni Sikivou of Port Vila confirmed with Island Business that MSGTA was a “goods only” agreement.
However, leaders have agreed for members to negotiate a roadmap on the possible inclusion of investment, trade in services and labour mobility.
In an Australian Associated Press (AAP) dispatch on Nov 17, 2003, then deputy Prime Minister Andrew Baing created controversy when he announced moves to change media ownership laws in PNG.
“The statement sent shockwaves through the audience of business and media chiefs, which included representatives of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and Kerry Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd,” AAP reported.