Fiji’s media decree and ‘draconian’ approach difficult, says publisher

Retiring Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts ... media difficulties "won't change unless there is a change in government". Image: Atu Rasea/Fiji Times

By Koro Vaka’uta of RNZ Pacific

The outgoing general manager and publisher of The Fiji Times says his job has been made difficult by the Fiji government’s draconian approach to the media.

Hank Arts is retiring at the end of this month after seven years in the role.

Arts said he had enjoyed being able to modernise the Times and help upskill reporting staff at the newspaper.

LISTEN: Hank Arts speaks on Dateline Pacific

He said on the opposite side of the spectrum was negative dealings with government.

“It’s made difficult because of the challenges that we had with a government not appreciating the value and the work of an independent newspaper,” he said.

“So that has seen two nasty court cases that have been expensive both in legal costs and also very much in human costs.”

Hank Arts said the government’s 2020 Media Decree hangs over the industry, threatening large fines and jail terms, and he does not see the environment changing with a general election due later this year.

“It will continue to be difficult,” Arts said.

“It won’t change unless there is a change in government. The government is still very popular here, there is an awful lot of things they are doing to push Fiji ahead.”

“I can’t see a change of government and the government won’t change, they have had plenty of time to come and work with us but that is just not going to happen,” he said.

The Pacific Media Centre has a content sharing partnership with RNZ Pacific.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
VIAPacific Media Watch
The Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology also collaborates with other Asia-Pacific media centres engaged in research and cultural production and develops cultural and research publications, building on the success of the peer-reviewed publication Pacific Journalism Review, media freedom project Pacific Media Watch and current affairs website Asia Pacific Report.