|SEND UP: Illustration courtesy of Fiji satirist Shazzer for Freedom.|
Sour relations between Fiji's Media Industry Development Authority and an ABC journalist has led to a training program being dropped.
The tension is due to a confrontation between MIDA chairman, Ashwin Raj, and MIDA director, Matai Akouala, and ABC journalist, Sean Dorney, at the Pacific Media Summit in Noumea.
Raj and Akauola are accused of criticizing Dorney over his coverage of what Akauola said at a plenary session. Witnesses say Raj called him “two faced” and a “scavenger” while Matai pointed his finger and said “you are not ever coming back to Fiji”.
Dorney is barred from Fiji.
Ashwin Raj subsequently wrote to ABC International complaining about Dorney and demanding an apology. ABC hasn’t replied, but its affiliate, PACMAS, in partnership with the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, has deferred a media training workshop planned for Suva next month.
The Digital Media Training was aimed at capacity building and development of media practitioners.
A letter from project manager, Amy Richardson, to candidates reads in part:
"For the reasons explained below PACMAS are not currently able to operate projects in Fiji.....
"The Media Industry Development Authority of Fiji recently wrote to the Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation lodging a complaint about the conduct of one of its staff members during a recent conference in Noumea.
"As a consequence of the allegations made by MIDA and the authority they carry in Fiji, its Chairman Ashwin Raj and CEO, Matai Akauola have suspended all collaboration with the ABC and PACMAS at this time.
"PACMAS staff have been endeavouring to have MIDA separate it’s grievance with the ABC staff member from that of PACMAS but have not been successful so far."
The letter goes on to say organisers may bring forward the next phase of the workshop which is likely to take place in either Samoa or Tonga, possibly later this year.