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Ex-Fiji Times publisher named as Motibhai’s new man at helm

Netani Rika

Fiji Times editor-in-chief Netani Rika cuts the 75th birthday cake of sister paper Shanti Dut earlier this year. Picture: Fiji Times

Pacific Scoop
Report – By Stanley Simpson in Suva

Dallas Swinstead, the publisher of the Fiji Times from 1976 to 1980, has been appointed as new publisher of the Fiji Times – as the Motibhai Group officially took over ownership of the newspaper today.

Motibhai Group chairman Mahendra Patel, who is also the new Fiji Times board chairman, told FBC News that Swinstead – an Australian – would run the newspaper independently with his management team.

The Fiji Times will operate as an independent separate unit. Dallas Swinstead and his staff are the people that will fashion the editorial content of the paper. We will not interfere with that. The staff are empowered to operate and run independently – of course we will be there to guide, but we will not interfere. “

Swinstead has an extensive and distinguished record in the publishing field and has been a journalist, editor and managing director of many major Australian newspapers including the Herald Weekly, The Age, the Sunday Press and Qantas inflight magazine.

Patel also told FBC News that the former board members have resigned and the new Fiji Times board is currently made up of Motibhai executives with him as chairman.

Patel spoke to Fiji Times staff today and assured them that the Motibhai Group consider their staff as the most important asset of the company.

He also confirmed that Netani Rika would remain as editor but any changes would be made on the recommendation of Swinstead.

On whether the Fiji Times would fully recognise the new government and now refer to Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as Prime Minister – this is
what Patel had to say: “You will find out in due course. Let any changes that happen, happen slowly. We will embrace and change in the fullness of time.”

Earlier today, the former owners, News Ltd – represented by chairman John Hartigan – officially signed over ownership of the newspaper to the Motibhai Group.

Stanley Simpson is news director of the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

Source: 7036 Fiji Broadcasting Corporation/Pacific Media Watch