News Corp’s Fiji Times faces tough time

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By Besta Shankar | June 29, 2010 3:27 AM EST

Fiji Times, a newspaper from Rupert Murdoch owned News Corporation, said Monday, that it has been compelled to withdraw from the small island-nation of Fiji, as the military regime passes a new media decree which came into effect from June 28th, 2010.

According to the Media Industry Development Decree by the Fiji government, the media organizations in the country should make sure that their directors and 90 per cent of the beneficial shareholders of are permanent citizens of the nation. The government has given three months’ time after the effective date to comply with the new decree.

"The residency requirement has been relaxed, and permanently residing now means any person residing in Fiji for three out of the seven years prior to registration and thereafter residing in Fiji for at least six out of 12 months of a year,” the statement said.

“Any media organisation which fails to comply with this requirement shall cease to operate as a media organisation, and shall also be liable for an offence under the Decree,” statement warns.

“The company will explore any options it may have to remain involved in media in Fiji," said, Chief Executive John Hartigan, News Corp's Australian subsidiary News Ltd.

"We will fight while we still can, but there is no doubt that this move is designed to force our hand in selling the business and pulling out of Fiji altogether," Hartigan said in a statement. The Fiji Times has been in circulation for 23 years.

Military regime led by Frank Bainimarama has been targeting the media after he overtook elected leader Laisenia Qarase in a bloodless coup in 2006, making corruption charges against him. In April 2009, Bainimarama ordered the media not to publish or broadcast any material against the regime.

News Corporation is a global publisher of English-language newspapers and their digital brands, with operations in the U.K., the United States, Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and across Europe and Asia. News Limited publishes 110 national, capital city and suburban newspapers in Australia.

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