VANUATU: Radio station FM107 defies government order
Monday, January 14, 2013
MELBOURNE (Australian Network News / ABC / Pacific Media Watch): A radio station in Vanuatu is defying government orders to cease broadcasting after the Prime Minister wrote to the station's management accusing it of breaking the nation's laws.
Sato Kilman alleges the radio station Capital FM107 has been operating illegally since failing to renew its broadcasting licence when it expired in 2010.
The Prime Minister's first political adviser, Richard Kaltongga, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat programme that according to law the station must cease broadcasting until it has renewed its licence.
"Any business in Vanuatu or anywhere else in the world, if it doesn't have a licence to operate, it's not allowed to operate," he said.
In a letter to the radio station, Kilman also accused Capital FM107 of committing several other breaches of the nation's broadcasting act relating to poor journalism.
He says there have been several incidents of journalists failing to report in a balanced and accurate manner.
Kilman is even more concerned about the broadcast of what he describes as "swearing death threats" on the station's talk back programme.
Kaltongga says the government is concerned the radio station is inciting disorderly public reaction.
"People are being allowed to come on the air in response to discussions and the public's calling and making threats trying to incite people," he said.
"The shows are run in a manner that we have some grave concerns about."
The government has ordered Capital FM107 to cease broadcasting until the licensing issues are rectified.
In a written statement to Radio Australia's Pacific Beat programme, the station's manager Moses Stevens says the matter has been taken to their lawyers and they are unable to comment until they receive further advice.
Stevens says they have been advised to continue broadcasting until the matter is resolved.
The government has instructed the police to investigate whether criminal or civil charges should be laid against the station's management.
Local media has raised concerns the government order is an attempt to infringe on press freedom.
But the government has denied the claim, arguing the issue is purely legal.
The Prime Minister's first political adviser, Richard Kaltongga, says the radio station must follow the same laws as other media organisations in the country.
"Freedom of press or anything doesn't even come into it," he said.
"They don't have a licence to operate and if they want to operate they should get their matters sorted out.
"Every other media organisation in Vanuatu, whether they're a newspaper or radio, they are subject to the same conditions and they are abiding by the laws here."
* PMW editor note: Moses Stevens is currently president of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), the main regional media organisation.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.