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Pacific media urged to hold governments, organisations to account

The media in the Pacific Islands has been challenged to be more inquisitive and to hold governments and organisations to account at this year's Pacific Media Summit in New Caledonia.

The challenge has been issued by the new director general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Dr Colin Tukuitonga, at the opening of the third Pacific Media Summit.

Dr Tukuitonga has told the official opening of the summit that he believes the media in the Pacific is too passive.

In his keynote address, Dr Tukuitonga challenged Pacific journalists to be proactive and not simply accept the word of governments and international and regional organisations.

"In general I would put it to you that you do not ask us the hard questions and I would invite you to ask us the hard questions," he said.

Mr Roch Wamytam, the president of the Congress of New Caledonia, is attending the media summit, along with 150 delegates from throughout the Pacific.

He said New Caledonia had only one newspaper.

"This does not guarantee the independence and reliability of journalists but this is the situation in New Caledonia now with the monopoly of the press," Mr Wamytam said.

Dr Tukuitonga has also criticised international food processing companies, saying highly processed food was killing three out of four people in the Pacific.
'Open our doors'

The chairman of Fiji's Media Industry Development Authority has told the Pacific Media Summit that foreign journalists currently banned by the interim Fijian Government should be allowed to visit to cover this year's elections.

Ashwin Raj, who was part of a panel discussion on media legislation in the Pacific, said it was imperative for free and fair elections that the international media be permitted to return.

"Because a lot has changed since the 2006 takeover - there's no emergency decree in place; people are free to report," he said.



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