Pacific Media Watch

Sun editorial calls for showing of Fiji documentary


Title -- 3474 FIJI: Sun editorial calls for showing of Fiji documentary
Date -- 10 November 2001
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- (Fiji) Sun, 8/11/1
Copyright -- FS
Status -- Unabridged


(Fiji) Sun editorial
8 November 2001


  • See item 3470 on Fiji Television declining to broadcast In the Name of Growth.

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    Levuka is a lovely town.

    So is its story.

    It is very small in size, but rich in history.

    Well, once upon a time.

    Such a story can be heard when one views the award-nominated locally-produced documentary called In the Name of Growth.

    Pity our monopolistic national television service is declining requests to air the video.

    Television viewers are, in the process, being deprived of the lessons this country can learn from the story of Levuka.

    Lessons like the:

    Exploitation of Fijians at the hands of Fijians; and the
    Social implications of commercialisation in the traditional Fijian establishment.

    Watch the video and hear of how women workers at the canning factory reminisce about the "good old days" when their Japanese managers were in town.

    And their misplaced hopes of how local managers would improve their lot, given that the company has been turned into a local one.

    Producers Dr 'Atu Emberson-Bain and Michael Preston portrayed the message succinctly when the camera moved from a worker lamenting their poor working conditions to a senior manager driving away in a new Pajero.

    The story should be clear to all - that localisation may sound good to the ears but it must be accompanied by good, credible management.

    That power can also corrupt was another lesson gleaned from the documentary.

    There was this stand-in manager who felt that he was not only the boss, but a crusader too -- banning as a result adultery among the workers and getting pastors from his church to preach to workers during their lunch hour!

    The social impact of commercialisation was well depicted.

    This, in fact, is one of the most powerful stories of Levuka yet to be told -- the disruptions of mothers and women going to work caused to Fijian villages and other traditional establishments.

    While working was a novel idea of bringing money to the families of Levuka, no thought was ever done on preparing men about the new role they have to face -- that they have to keep the house and manage the children.

    There was this chief who complained about marshalling villagers to a general clean-up work, but hardly anybody turned up since all had gone to work.

    And you have managers trained by Western concepts who are only too quick to deduct pay of workers who turn up a few minutes late or for absenteeism.

    Never mind if the worker had walked to work since the truck did not pick her up that day, or that she couldn't come to work since she had to rush one of her children to the hospital.

    Forget about calling to inform her supervisor of her absence since the village does not have a telephone.

    It's been said that In the Name of Growth is for students of economics and development in the Pacific.

    We say the documentary is for everyone in Fiji who cares about its people and their future.

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    9 November 2001

    SUVA (Pacific Media Watch): Fiji Television will not be airing new local documentary by Senator 'Atu Emberson-Bain and Michael Rokotuiviwa Preston because the company "feels that it's not up to journalistic standard", reports the Sun newspaper.

    But independent broadcasters rate the documentary In the Name of Growth highly. It was broadcast by Australia's multicultural Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) network and has also been aired on Fiji's Community Television (CTV).

    Co-directors of CTV Regina and John Yates praised the programme makers for "beginning a new era of exciting documentaries" in Fiji.

    The programme, latest produced by the award-winning Infocus Productions partnership between Bain and Preston, has been nominated in the best documentary category at this week's 21st Hawai'i International Film Festival.

    In the Name of Growth focuses on working conditions in the late 1990s for women cannery workers at PAFCO (Pacific Fishing Company) at Levuka on Ovalau Island. Critics have praised the programme for its insights into globalisation on marginalised communities.

    The Sun reported on 9 November 2001 that Fiji Television head of news and programming Richard Broadbridge said the broadcaster had reviewed the documentary but it did "not qualify with the journalism principles" and it was "not balanced".

    "While we congratulate them on the documentary and that it has been nominated for international awards, we don't feel it qualifies," Broadbridge said.

    "We look for balance in a story [when] we are going to air. The documentary must be factual. We felt this documentary lacked this."

    Broadbridge told the Sun that apart from one telephone inquiry, public demand for the documentary to be aired on television had been nil.

    In a statement to Pacific Media Watch on November 8, CTV's co-directors said:

    "CTV congratulates Dr Bain and Michael Preston. In the Name of Growth was well received by our viewers and we're delighted to have documentary makers who can elevate the quality of programmes to new levels.

    "Atu and Michael working in Fiji are beginning a new era of exciting documentaries."

    Fiji Media Watch's coordinator Swasti Chand said she hoped Fiji Television would reconsider its decision.

    "It would be a great idea to have it screened on Fiji' Television so that our own people are able to view a local production," she said.

    "I am hopeful that Fiji TV will reconsider its decision and air it."


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