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Media industry mourns loss

Nasik Swami
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

FORMER media personnel and political commentator Jese Sikivou has died.

Sikivou passed away on Monday night and his death was confirmed by the Marama na Roko Tui Dreketi and Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa.

Ro Teimumu said Sikivou was a scion of the Sikivou family of Rewa and the vanua of Burebasaga was mourning his loss.

She said with his death, the country had lost a staunch defender of media freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance.

"With Jese's death, Fiji and the Pacific have lost a well-qualified and eloquent supporter of media rights," Ro Teimumu said.

"Jese closely followed and influenced the development of the media industry in Fiji and the Asia/Pacific region.

"He saw journalism's foundation as accuracy and truth.

"He acknowledged that while journalists cannot always guarantee the "truth", getting facts right was the fundamental principle of their craft."

In a statement released yesterday, the Fijian Media Association stated Sikivou left an indelible mark on media development in Fiji and the Pacific region.

"Sikivou rose to media prominence in the mid-1990s when he joined the then Fiji Broadcasting Commission (FBC) as an alternate news anchor for the 7pm news, second only to the legend news reader, Keith Broadbridge, who has continued in that role until today," the association said.

The association said during his stint with the national broadcaster, he was tasked by the then general manager, Sireli Kini, who was also chairperson of the Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association (PIBA) to relocate the organisation from Port Vila to Suva.

"He (Sikivou) went through many hurdles, including threats of deportation from Vanuatu in 1998 while implementing the decision of the PINA board to move the organisation to Fiji.

"He was offered the CEO of PIBA and set up the secretariat in Suva and revamped the regional news service, PACNEWS to become the leading and respectable regional news service it has become today.

"During that time, he represented the Pacific media and regional CSOs on the Commonwealth Foundation, AIBD, Asia and Pacific Broadcasting UNION (ABU)."

According to the association, Sikivou secured opportunities for media training for broadcasters from the Commonwealth, ABU, AIBD and the then AusAID.

Association general secretary Stanley Simpson said the association was saddened to lose a strong voice for media development and rights in Fiji and the Pacific.

"When he became involved in politics after his media work, he continued to mentor young journalists in Fiji to probe and ask the difficult questions, to keep governments and those in authority in check," Simpson said.

He said Sikivou was instrumental in setting up journalists to cover major regional and international events.

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