FIJI BROADCASTER QUESTIONS PERMIT DELAY

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 27) - TV2 Fiji, an applicant for a license to establish and operate a second commercial "free-to-air" television station in Fiji, has again questioned the lengthy delay in the issue of a commercial television broadcast license.

The query comes after an item aired on Fiji 1 News recently, which said senior officials at the Communications Ministry confirmed the Australian television station, Toronto Pacific, which applied in 1994, was still interested in setting up business in the country.

The news items said two others, including TV2 and Beijing based Fushun Television, were also on the waiting list, with their applications being processed.

"Toronto Pacific is TV2's Australian-based broadcast station construction and operations consultant," TV2 managing director Ken Stratton said. "We are not "an American television station."

"Toronto Pacific is not applying for a license. Our Fiji-incorporated company, Maire Limited is the TV2 applicant."

Stratton said he had provided copies of emails from satellite operators and satellite broadcast consultants to the Minister confirming there was no more space available on any suitable satellites to allow anyone to provide a third DTH satellite service to Fiji.

"Intelsat advise they only have 6Mhz or enough space for three compressed digital channels on their I701 satellite; no more.

"Any new licensee will have to limit their service to three channels or wait for a new satellite to be brought into service by someone.

"Neither Intelsat, PanAmSat, New Skies or AsiaSat have any capacity on a footprint suitable for Fiji DTH TV.

Our main complaint is with the delay in "processing" our application.

We are not at all interested in a "pay" service. It would not be financially viable or technically acceptable to Fiji viewers.

"We are seeking a "free-to-air" channel which will be available to all Fiji and Rotuma viewers, not just the affluent who can afford pay television," Stratton said.

Meanwhile, TV2 continues to acquire program rights in anticipation of receiving a broadcast license in the near future.

October 28, 2005

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