Acting Prime Minister and Communications Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is asking for an explanation from Fiji Television on why it has announced its planned transition from analog to digital TV broadcasting without first seeking clarification from the Department of Communications.
In a press conference yesterday evening, Sayed-Khaiyum said 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.
Sayed-Khaiyum said this will cut down the costs of building and maintaining infrastructure for all the TV stations.
The TV stations in this case are Fiji TV, FBC TV and Mai TV.
He said in accordance with Cabinet’s decision of January this year, the management of this TV 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.
Sayed-Khaiyum said all their plans will be geared towards this to ensure that costs for all the broadcasters are reduced through cost sharing and they are able to provide the best quality of programming.
When questioned on what will happen if Fiji TV has the funds to go ahead with its upgrade plan from analog to digital and the other TV broadcasters are not ready because they do not have the funds to go ahead, Sayed-Khaiyum said this is one of the main issues they want to manage.
He said there should be equal and equitable access for all the broadcasters.
Sayed-Khaiyum said the government will give the management of the process to an entity with proven commercial and technical capability and the appropriate technology.
He will meet with the Fiji TV board later today to seek an explanation.
When we contacted Nouzab Fareed, the Chief Executive of Fijian Holdings Limited which owns majority shares in Fiji TV, he said Fiji TV is fully supportive of the government policy.
Fareed said since the government wants to lead the TV upgrade process, Fiji TV will follow the government process.
Fareed said at no point did Fiji TV have any wrong intentions.
He said no investments have been made and these were just plans to upgrade from analog to digital.
Benefits of moving to the digital system include more free-to-air channels, access to an electronic program guide and the ability to watch TV in high definition quality.
Story by: Vijay Narayan