Attorney General seeks explanation on Fiji TV’s digital transition

Caption: Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the press conference yesterday afternoon.Photo: MINFO


It is highly irresponsible that the Board and management of Fiji TV saw fit to unilaterally make an announcement on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting without first seeking clarification from the Department of Communications. As a result, Fiji TV, a publicly-listed company, has willfully misled its stakeholders, and in particular its shareholders, as to the timing and plan for this transition.

Government has been announcing since last year that the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting for all television broadcasters, including Fiji TV, will be overseen by a holistic and coordinated migration plan.

This is precisely what happens in other countries. For Fiji TV to make a unilateral announcement without any consultation with the Department of Communications demonstrates that they have no understanding of this process and no consideration for their stakeholders.

Government has been working side-by-side with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to develop a migration plan built on best international practice. In fact, just this week Government has received the ITU’s final report outlining Fiji’s roadmap for transition to digital broadcasting.

A key principle of this plan is that it is uneconomical and inefficient for each broadcaster in Fiji to develop their own digital infrastructure.

Therefore, it is imperative that this process be Government-driven to ensure that all broadcasters have equal and equitable access to a shared infrastructure that will give them the same network coverage and quality. This will cut down on the costs of building and maintaining infrastructure – savings that will be passed on to consumers – and will give all broadcasters an equal footing, allowing them to compete with one another on a level playing field on the quality of their programming.

Such an approach will offer benefits to consumers by increasing the quality and quantity of programming.

In accordance with Cabinet’s decision of January this year, the management of this migration plan must ensure that Government’s interest in policy decisions is safeguarded, including its demand for equal and equitable access for all broadcasters, through the implementation of fair and transparent site-sharing rules and regulations.

To this end, as per Cabinet’s decision, Government will give the management of this migration process to an entity with proven commercial and technical capability and the appropriate technology.

We will be meeting with the Board tomorrow to seek an explanation on this matter.

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