Rabuka calls for public inquiry into Walesi

Rabuka calls for public inquiry into Walesi

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 20/12/2021
People’s Alliance Leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

People’s Alliance Leader, Sitiveni Rabuka is now calling for a public inquiry into Walesi as he says the unilateral decision to transition all television operators to one singular digital platform is typical of the arrogance of the dictatorial regime.

Rabuka says Walesi has not tabled audited financial reports in Parliament since it started in 2016 and yet received millions of dollars in grants apart from FBC.

He asks who is behind Walesi, who is Robert Khan, was there a tender done for all services related to Walesi, were there instances where any party awarded a contract from Walesi had to subcontract and why and how stable is the digital platform.

Rabuka says he is hearing stories that people that used to get access to TV no longer have access as they need the Walesi set top boxes and UHF antennas. He says even if the set top boxes are given for free for those earning $30,000 or below, people who are already suffering still have to buy a UHF antenna and get the connections done.


He asks if Walesi will need to spend more money on transmission systems and towers.

Rabuka also asks who will pick up the bill as it would ultimately be the taxpayers.

The People’s Alliance Leader says this unilateral decision has meant that at a drop of a hat, a publicly listed company like Fiji TV has to abandon and write off whatever it had invested in their transmission systems and move to the Walesi platform.

Rabuka says we are going backwards if those who used to have television access no longer have access until they spend money.


Rabuka says unfortunately, this move can only be looked at one way - an attempt to control television transmission in Fiji in a critical year 2022 and we all know what this means.

We have sent questions to the Communications Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Walesi.

It is not within our means or expertise to inform viewers of the switchover from analogue to digital television - Walesi CEO

TV broadcasters able to use Walesi free of charge until the first quarter of 2022

By: Semi Turaga

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Walesi Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Maharaj says it is important to note that Walesi is a service provider and not a content producer, therefore it is not within their means or expertise to inform television viewers of the switchover from analogue to digital television.

In a statement released on the Fijian Government facebook page, Maharaj says, however, the company has conducted extensive free installations as well as an extensive media campaign, especially on our social media, together with awareness roadshows to further accommodate the broadcasters and viewers alike, through this transition.

He says to allow for a smoother transition, this digital switchover is being done in a phased manner, with the first phase applying to the Navua-Korovou region and the Nadi-Lautoka corridor.

Maharaj adds the rollout programme is ongoing with the second phase of the rollout due for completion by June 2022 across the nation.

The Walesi CEO says at the present time, Walesi has 21 digital transmitter sites across Fiji and that is already 300% larger than existing analogue broadcast networks with expansion plans in the pipeline for Kadavu, Rotuma and Lakeba.

He adds 711 free TV sets and Walesi equipment installations have also been done in rural locations which grant over 120,000 people access to the information age.

Maharaj further says to date, Walesi has completed a two-year process distributing 189,526 Set-Top Boxes and 2,776 satellite receivers which have been distributed Fiji-wide.

He adds the Fijian Government has also facilitated the provision of TV sets and Walesi equipment in community halls, Government centres, and schools in over 700 communities.

Maharaj says additionally, over 600,000 viewers are already accessing television through the Walesi App, with more expected to join in the months to come.

He has revealed that television broadcasters are able to continue using the Walesi platform free of charge until the first quarter of 2022.

Maharaj says the access tariff is determined by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission.

He adds having FCCC mediate between Walesi and the broadcasters has created an independent process and helps everyone involved to ensure a fair outcome.

Fiji Television Limited says the shutting down of the analogue transmitters in Suva and Nadi is in accordance with correspondence from the Ministry of Communications and is in line with phase one of the Government’s planned switch-over process from analogue to digital television, Walesi. FBC CEO Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had said the switch over is good for the people as the picture and sound quality will be better. Mai TV Director Stanley Simpson said there are benefits that will come from this switch-over however they would have appreciated a bit more time to do this and any increase in transmission fees by Walesi will severely impact the television broadcast business in the country.

Following the switchover, some affected residents have shared their concerns with us.

A resident of Volivoli, Rakiraki was concerned he could not get a TV signal on the Walesi platform to watch the Dubai 7s.

Gyanendra Sharma said he has a Walesi set-top box and an antenna but he was not able to watch television.

He says he had bought an antenna for $75 when Walesi was introduced in Fiji.

37 year old, Maika Tikoilau from Nasau, Koro, Lomaiviti says villagers have been asked to pay for the Walesi agent’s travel fare to Koro Island to fix their TV connectivity problems.

Tikoilau says many of the villagers have their own Walesi set-top boxes and antennas but they are disappointed that they cannot access the Walesi network.

He says some of the villagers were planning to travel to Suva to buy a set-top box but they couldn't due to the fear of another lockdown.

Some residents of Naivikinikini in Lami who do not have access to Walesi set-top boxes connected to their home television set are disappointed as they no longer have access to television channels.

Frances Qounadovu says this was the talk of the town for them as there was no prior notice given about the switch over.

She says majority of the homes have the Walesi set-top box but do not have the UHF antenna as it is expensive.

Qounadovu says this has had a great impact on them.


It should be consumer demand that drives television stations onto a digital platform like Walesi – Richard Naidu

By: Semi Turaga

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Suva lawyer Richard Naidu believes that it should be consumer demand that drives television stations onto a digital platform like Walesi and it should not be the Government forcing them onto that platform.

Naidu says he is asking these questions because we know so little about the amount of tax dollars being spent on Walesi.

He says the question is why is the Government saying use only the Walesi platform when there are still other platforms available.

Naidu adds he is not saying do not use Walesi but he is asking why use only Walesi.

He says the first consequence of this change is already here where there are a number of people who simply can no longer access their TV channels.

The Suva lawyer further adds every content provider who can now only distribute through Walesi is completely at Walesi’s mercy.

Naidu says why are private-sector television channels being forced to do something they do not want to do.

He adds after having being forced to do it, the television channels are now also being forced to pay.


Villagers asked to pay for Walesi agent's travel fare to Koro Island

Walesi says households requiring their technicians to attend the installation would need to pay a fee
By Marika Rasekaseka
Wednesday 08/12/2021
Koro Island.

37 year old, Maika Tikoilau from Nasau, Koro, Lomaiviti says villagers have been asked to pay for the Walesi agent’s travel fare to Koro Island to fix their TV connectivity problems. Tikoilau says many of the villagers have their own Walesi set-top boxes and antennas but they are disappointed that they cannot access the Walesi network.

He says previously some high areas of Nasau had TV signals and they used to watch it just by connecting their antenna to the television set. This was an option when the analogue transmitters of the TV stations were on, however people can only access TV now via a Walesi set top box connected to a UHF antenna or satellite dish.

Tikoilau adds some of the villagers were planning to travel to Suva to buy a set-top box but they couldn't due to the fear of another lockdown.

Walesi CEO, Sanjay Maharaj says Koro Island is not affected by the digital switch over as they waived installation fees for affected areas from September to November 2021.

The CEO says households requiring Walesi technicians to attend the installation would need to pay a fee. Meanwhile, Samuela Moce who hails from the village of Nacamaki, Koro, Lomaiviti says people need to get a Walesi set-top box.

Moce says some villagers have been updated and educated from TV programs while using Walesi. He says for those that do not have access to TV are just going back in time.



Volivoli resident disappointed due to no TV signal to watch the Dubai 7s

Nadawa family plans to purchase Walesi set top box and UHF antenna to watch Dubai 7s
By Vijay Narayan, Shanil Singh, Iva Danford
Friday 03/12/2021
[image: file]

A resident of Volivoli, Rakiraki has raised concerns as he cannot get a TV signal on the Walesi platform since last week and they want to watch the Dubai 7s.

Gyanendra Sharma says he has a Walesi set-top box and an antenna but he is not able to watch television.

He says he had bought an antenna for $75 when Walesi was introduced in Fiji.

Sharma says several other families are facing the same issue and they have lodged a complaint with Walesi several times but the issue has not been fixed yet.

We have contacted Walesi regarding this complaint however they say they are unaware of any network issues in the area, and they are requesting the customer to contact them directly.

Nadawa resident Jovesa Korovulavula says they are planning to purchase a Walesi set top box and UHF antenna to watch the Dubai 7s this weekend.

Korovulavula says if they are not able to purchase it soon enough then they will be going to his sister’s house to watch the 7s.

Meanwhile, following the switching off of analogue television transmission in many parts of the country, some residents of Naivikinikini in Lami who do not have access to Walesi set-top boxes connected to their home television set are disappointed as they no longer have access to television channels.

Frances Qounadovu says this was the talk of the town for them as there was no prior notice given about the switch over.

She says majority of the homes have the Walesi set-top box but do not have the UHF antenna as it is expensive.

Qounadovu says this has had a great impact on them.

Qounadovu says only about 10 out of the 60 families in Naivikinikini have access to Walesi channels.

Households with a combined annual income of up to $30,000 a year can apply for a free Walesi set-top box under the Government’s subsidised scheme.

Walesi also says 189,526 homes are connected to Walesi Digital Television.

Fiji Television Limited announced on Tuesday that their analogue free to air television transmitter in Tamavua, Suva and Sabeto in Nadi will be shut down from this Wednesday after the Government’s decision for the companies to move from analogue to the digital platform, Walesi.

This means that people in the affected areas will only be able to access the Fiji One TV signal via a Walesi set-top box connected to their home television set with a UHF antenna or through the Walesi app or via a Walesi satellite dish connected to the set-top box. People in the affected areas can no longer access the Fiji One TV, FBC TV, Mai TV or any other TV signal via an antenna connected to their television set.

In a market announcement, the publicly listed company says the shutting down of the analogue transmitters in Suva and Nadi is in accordance with correspondence from the Ministry of Communications and is in line with phase one of the Government’s planned switch-over process from analogue to digital television, Walesi. Fiji TV says the areas affected in the Central and Eastern Division are Pacific Harbour, parts of Beqa, Navua, Naboro, Wainadoi, Lami, Delainavesi, all areas in Suva, all areas in Nasinu, all areas in Nausori, parts of Korovou and Natovi, parts of Ovalau, parts of Koro, parts of Batiki and Moturiki, areas affected in the Western Division include Nadi, Lautoka, parts of Ba, parts of Mamanuca and Yasawa and parts of the Coral Coast, and Vunisea and surrounding areas in Kadavu. The company says Fiji One viewers in Ba and Vanua Levu will continue to access Fiji One via the analogue platform however they are strongly advised to switch over to Walesi. We have sent questions to Fiji TV on what is the financial impact on the company, what is the asset value of the transmitters being shut down and what would all those assets be used for, what is the fee that Fiji TV has to pay to Walesi for their channels on the platform, how will this affect the company financially, did the company enter into negotiations on the shut down of the analogue transmitters and what was the advice given by the company to the Ministry of Communications on the effects on the company and the people that do not have Walesi set-top boxes, antennas or dishes, their thoughts on whether there are any benefits to leave the analogue transmitters on for those who do not have the Walesi set-top boxes and whether there have been any discussions on the type of license Fiji TV has and are there any changes to it since the transmission is being moved to the Walesi platform.

Fiji Television Limited has released another market announcement saying that it has been granted a Television Broadcast Operator License for a period of 12 years with effect from Wednesday, December 1st 2021.

It says this license was granted today by the Attorney General and Minister of Communication, Aiyaz Saiyed-Khaiyum, under the Television and Online Streaming Act 1992.

The license entitles Fiji TV to operate a free to air television broadcast service.

Chairman, Deepak Rathod says he is pleased with the 12 years broadcast license as it will enhance investor confidence in Fiji TV as a listed company.

We have sent questions to Acting Permanent Secretary for Communications, Tupou’tuah Baravilala on the Fiji TV market announcement.

We are still awaiting the response from Fiji TV and the Communications Ministry.



Residents in Naivikinikini disappointed as they have Walesi set-top boxes but no UHF antenna

By Vijay Narayan, Iva Danford
Friday 03/12/2021
[Photo Credit: Walesi Fiji]

Following the switching off of analogue television transmission in many parts of the country, some residents of Naivikinikini in Lami who do not have access to Walesi set-top boxes connected to their home television set are disappointed as they no longer have access to television channels.

Frances Qounadovu says this was the talk of the town for them as there was no prior notice given about the switch over.

She says majority of the homes have the Walesi set-top box but do not have the UHF antenna as it is expensive.

Qounadovu says this has had a great impact on them.

Qounadovu says only about 10 out of the 60 families in Naivikinikini have access to Walesi channels.

Fiji Television Limited announced on Tuesday that their analogue free to air television transmitter in Tamavua, Suva and Sabeto in Nadi will be shut down from this Wednesday after the Government’s decision for the companies to move from analogue to the digital platform, Walesi.

This means that people in the affected areas will only be able to access the Fiji One TV signal via a Walesi set-top box connected to their home television set with a UHF antenna or through the Walesi app or via a Walesi satellite dish connected to the set-top box.

People in the affected areas can no longer access the Fiji One TV or any other TV signal via an antenna connected to their television set. In a market announcement, the publicly listed company says the shutting down of the analogue transmitters in Suva and Nadi is in accordance with correspondence from the Ministry of Communications and is in line with phase one of the Government’s planned switch-over process from analogue to digital television, Walesi.

Fiji TV says the areas affected in the Central and Eastern Division are Pacific Harbour, parts of Beqa, Navua, Naboro, Wainadoi, Lami, Delainavesi, all areas in Suva, all areas in Nasinu, all areas in Nausori, parts of Korovou and Natovi, parts of Ovalau, parts of Koro, parts of Batiki and Moturiki, areas affected in the Western Division include Nadi, Lautoka, parts of Ba, parts of Mamanuca and Yasawa and parts of the Coral Coast, and Vunisea and surrounding areas in Kadavu.

The company says Fiji One viewers in Ba and Vanua Levu will continue to access Fiji One via the analogue platform however they are strongly advised to switch over to Walesi.

We have sent questions to Fiji TV on what is the financial impact on the company, what is the asset value of the transmitters being shut down and what would all those assets be used for, what is the fee that Fiji TV has to pay to Walesi for their channels on the platform, how will this affect the company financially, did the company enter into negotiations on the shut down of the analogue transmitters and what was the advice given by the company to the Ministry of Communications on the effects on the company and the people that do not have Walesi set-top boxes, antennas or dishes, their thoughts on whether there are any benefits to leave the analogue transmitters on for those who do not have the Walesi set-top boxes and whether there have been any discussions on the type of license Fiji TV has and are there any changes to it since the transmission is being moved to the Walesi platform.

Fiji Television Limited has released another market announcement saying that it has been granted a Television Broadcast Operator License for a period of 12 years with effect from Wednesday, December 1st 2021.

It says this license was granted today by the Attorney General and Minister of Communication, Aiyaz Saiyed-Khaiyum, under the Television and Online Streaming Act 1992.

The license entitles Fiji TV to operate a free to air television broadcast service.

Chairman, Deepak Rathod says he is pleased with the 12 years broadcast license as it will enhance investor confidence in Fiji TV as a listed company.

We have sent questions to Acting Permanent Secretary for Communications, Tupou’tuah Baravilala on the Fiji TV market announcement.

We are still awaiting the response from Fiji TV and the Communications Ministry.

Related story:

FBC to shut down it’s analogue transmitters in Sabeto and Nakobalevu tomorrow

Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the picture and sound quality will be better

By: Vijay Narayan

Tuesday 30/11/2021

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The Fijian Broadcasting Corporation will be shutting down their analogue free to air television transmitter in Sabeto and Nakobalevu from tomorrow following Government’s decision for the companies to move from analogue to the digital platform, Walesi.

This means that people in the affected areas will only be able to access the FBC TV signal via a Walesi set-top box connected to their home television set with a UHF antenna or through the Walesi app or via a Walesi satellite dish connected to the set-top box.

From tomorrow, people in the affected areas can no longer access the FBC TV signal via an antenna connected to their television set.

FBC CEO Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the switch over is good for the people as the picture and sound quality will be better.

Sayed-Khaiyum says because of the work that Walesi has done, more Fijians in these areas will get better access to television.

He says there is no financial impact on the company and instead of paying for the upkeep of their transmitters, this responsibility will now shift to Walesi who will be paid a fee by the television companies.

The FBC CEO says they have not sold any of their transmitters to Walesi.

Mai TV to shut down it’s analogue transmitters in Lololo, Sabeto and Nakobalevu at midnight

Simpson says any increase in fees by Walesi will severely impact the TV broadcast business in Fiji

By: Shanil Singh

Tuesday 30/11/2021

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Mai TV will be shutting down their analogue free to air television transmitters in Lololo, Sabeto and Nakobalevu at midnight tonight following Government’s decision for the companies to move from analogue to the digital platform, Walesi.

This means that people in the affected areas will only be able to access the Mai TV signal via a Walesi set-top box connected to their home television set with a UHF antenna or through the Walesi app or via a Walesi satellite dish connected to the set-top box.

From tomorrow, people in the affected areas can no longer access the Mai TV signal via an antenna connected to their television set.

Mai TV Director Stanley Simpson says there are benefits that will come from this switch-over however they would have appreciated a bit more time to do this and any increase in transmission fees by Walesi will severely impact the television broadcast business in the country.

He says the Government is trying to move forward and Mai TV will have to go along with the conditions provided within the license.

Simpson adds they are still waiting to find out the amount of fee they will be charged by Walesi and the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission is looking into this.

He adds they are still in the process of working out how this will impact the company financially.




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