December 1, 2016 1:34 pm

FBC’s Wasea Basha program cleared of “inciting communal discord”

The complaint against Fiji Broadcasting Corporation’s Wasea Bashea will not be referred to the Media Tribunal. The Media Development Authority chairman, Mr Ashwin Raj has concluded that “the program failed to meet the threshold for inciting communal discord.” According to Mr Raj, the Authority examined the contents of the particular episode of the program and […]

The complaint against Fiji Broadcasting Corporation’s Wasea Bashea will not be referred to the Media Tribunal.

The Media Development Authority chairman, Mr Ashwin Raj has concluded that “the program failed to meet the threshold for inciting communal discord.”

According to Mr Raj, the Authority examined the contents of the particular episode of the program and the following statements:

  • “Many iTaukei children cannot read in English”
  • “Some teachers drink grog whole night and come to work lazy”
  • “Many iTaukei boys roam around in the night with their mobile phones, wasting time”
  • “Indo-Fijian boys and girls do not roam around in the night.”

However, Mr Raj determined the episode contained generalisations and stereotypes that lacked “accuracy, balance and fairness about social progress of the iTaukei community,”

RAJ: “Not only are the statements denigrating towards the iTaukei community, statements attributed to the Indo-Fijifan community are equally unsubstantiated.”

The Chairman concluded that the episode, although “saturated as it was with generalisations”, was not tantamount to “explicit racism.”

On October 21, MIDA received a complaint against FBC from Peter Waqavonovono, Jope Tarai, Vani Catanasiga and Seni Nabou over contents of the Wasea Basha program.

The complainants claimed the content was tantamount to “explicit racism”.  They argued that the program insinuated that “iTaukei people are inferior because they fail in universities because they spend more time participating in sports” and that “iTaukei people are academically poor because they do not know how to read in English.”

DPP clears FBC executives over Wasea Bhasha broadcast

November 23 – The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Christopher Pryde, has decided there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone in relation to an allegation of inciting communal antagonism contrary to section 65 of the Crimes Decree following an item broadcast on the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Wasea Bhasha programme on 16th October 2016.

The allegations were made against the former FBC Wasea Bhasha producer and host Nemani Bainivalu, the acting Chief Executive Officer Vimlesh Sagar and the acting manager Mohammed Faiyaz Khan.

PRYDE: “In order for a charge of inciting communal antagonism to succeed, the broadcast must have been of such a nature and sufficiently egregious to justify the sanction of the criminal law. In other words, the broadcast must do more than simply insult or cause offence to people. In my view, having considered the evidence and the context in which the item was broadcast, the item does not reach the necessary threshold for a reasonable prospect of conviction were the matter to go to trial and, therefore, I decline to sanction a prosecution.”