Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. File Photo.
The Bainimarama Government has finalised a decree that greatly expands access to coverage of important televised events, including sports, by requiring all of Fiji’s free-to-air television broadcasters to air them.
These events include the following: the FIFA World Cup; the Rugby World Cup, both Sevens and Fifteens; the Rugby League World Cup; the IRB Sevens Series; the Netball World Cup; the Olympic Games; the Commonwealth Games; the South Pacific Games; the Mini-South Pacific Games; the Coca-Cola Games; state funerals; general elections results; the national budget address; and parliament proceedings (questions and answers sessions).
The Attorney-General and Minister for Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said that the Television (Cross-Carriage of Designated Events) Decree 2014 puts an end to the old system that allowed a single broadcaster to purchase exclusive rights for the coverage of important events.
“Many Fijians – especially amongst the poor and marginalised – do not have access to subscription television or even to all three free-to-air television stations. They might only receive one or two stations depending on where they live or what kind of antenna they have,” the Attorney-General explained.
The Attorney-General said that the Bainimarama Government does not want those who cannot afford a subscription television service like SKY or who do not have access to all of the free-to-air channels to miss out on important programming.
“This new law ends discrimination between viewers and ensures that more Fijians will be able to watch all these important events,” he said.
“Under the new law, everybody who has access to at least one free-to-air station – FBC, Fiji TV or Mai TV – will now be able to view coverage of the designated events,” he said.
The Attorney-General said the law will apply to all different kinds of programming, but that the biggest impact will be on boosting the coverage of major sporting events.
“The Bainimarama Government understands how much ordinary Fijians care about sports and we are pleased that this new law will give coverage of top sporting events to many people who have never had it before,” he said.
He explained that under the Decree free-to-air television broadcasters must share the cost of the rights to the designated events. The amount each has to pay is in direct proportion to its share of the market.
“We will be buying the rights to these events as a nation, rather than as individual companies. This means that all Fijians now have a right to see all these events,” he said.
“Countries such as Australia, India, and Singapore have similar legislation, which has proven to be an effective way to maintain fair market conduct and effective competition in their broadcast industries, as well as to ensure the availability of a comprehensive range of quality television services,” he said.
The Attorney-General said that the market share of each of Fiji’s free-to-air television stations has been based on an independent viewership and listenership survey conducted by Clarus Research Group, an internationally-respected survey research firm based in Washington, D.C.