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Lamb to the slaughter

FijI TV discards CEO

WHEN Fiji Television Limited CEO, Geoffrey Smith, finally steps down this month, he will put to rest one of the media industry’s worst-kept secrets. Appointed to replace Tevita Gonelevu in July 2015, Smith was ostensibly tasked to oversee the gutting of the company to a point where it would become no threat to the state-owned Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

The post of CEO of one of Fiji’s most promising companies was a poisoned chalice for Smith from the very beginning. Ever since the company refused to bend to the pressures of Fiji’s unelected interim administration under RearAdmiral Frank Bainimarama and later his Fiji First government, the knives have been out. First to go was investment specialist Mesake Nawari, recruited from Fijian Holdings Limited to understudy Canadian Ken Clark and eased out of the company by sustained political and military pressure.

Nawari drew the ire of the interim government when he continued to allow his news service to operate independently and openly challenge policies of Bainimara’s administration. That began on December 6 when the station did not produce its nightly news bulletin – the first time since its inception in 1991 – in protest against military censorship.

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