The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) on August 8 accused the New Zealand Labor government and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat of refusing to grant media accreditation to the Pacific News Bulletin (PNB), the only Pacific Islands civil society owned newsletter, to report the 34th Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland beginning August 12.
The PNB, a monthly publication owned by 120-member organisations, from 33 countries within the Pacific region, of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement, was established in 1986 and is read worldwide by paid subscribers because it gives alternative views and information on Pacific issues not covered by mainstream media. It is also posted on the web site for public readership.
According to correspondence, the Forum Secretariat decided that the Pacific News Bulletin is not a mainstream media because it is owned by a civil society organisation.
Pacific News Bulletin director, Motarilavoa Hilda Lini said, "New Zealand is playing double standards by talking about the importance of media freedom and civil society participation and at the same time closing the door to the Pacific News Bulletin, that reports the voice of Pacific civil society on human security issues in the region."
"The Forum Secretariat also plays double standards by advising that media accreditation is the responsibility of New Zealand as a host country and at the same time advises New Zealand not to grant media accreditation to the only Pacific Islands civil society owned news media", Ms Lini stated.
According to Ms Lini, this is the first time in its 15 years of publication that the Pacific News Bulletin has been refused media accreditation to the Pacific Islands Forum on application.
It raises serious questions about good governance and transparency when the Pacific Islands Forum is only accrediting government-owned media and national papers that are mainly owned by foreign media corporations who have their own particular line of reporting.
The New Zealand government on the other hand, while being vocal on media freedom, has decided to remain silent on the issue and has not responded to any correspondences sent to them.
From Green Left Weekly, August 13, 2003.
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