Dismissed Fiji TV Execs Call For Misconduct Inquiry

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Various officials, including Justice Minister, accused of interference

By Tevita Vuibau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 8, 2015) – Dismissed Fiji TV executives Tevita Gonelevu and Tanya Waqanika are calling for a commission of inquiry into the conduct of Fiji TV chair Ioane Naiveli, FHL CEO Nouzab Fareed and/or the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Finance, Public Enterprises and Public Service Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Gonelevu and Ms Waqanika have levelled serious allegations of misconduct and interference at the trio, saying their dismissal had to do with the saga surrounding the sharing of the sevens series live feed and Fiji TV's refusal to compromise its exclusive agreement with World Rugby.

And the pair said they would consider legal action on their dismissal but would not rush the process.

In a press conference yesterday, Mr Gonelevu alleged the interference in Fiji TV matters extended to the point where Ministry of Justice officials drafted letters voicing Fiji TV's support for sharing the sevens feed and forced Fiji TV executives to undersign.

"We were basically told to sign that letter or our licence will be affected or also we could face prosecution under the television Cross Carriage of Events Decree," Mr Gonelevu said.

One of the letters also outlined the decision to sack Ms Waqanika.

Mr Gonelevu refused to sign a second letter he said was already typed out and given to him in a meeting with the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General and the Government Director of Communications.

The second letter of support was eventually signed by Mr Naiveli and Mr Fareed - and Mr Gonelevu alleged the pair did not consult the Fiji TV board before doing so.

He said his termination was not considered by board members and despite requests to Mr Naiveli and Mr Fareed to clarify that a board meeting took place, there was none forthcoming.

He also said because staff terminations could only be made by the CEO, the board did not have the powers to dismiss Ms Waqanika.

Mr Gonelevu also clarified the pair were not paid any settlements despite comments made by Mr Fareed that the pair would be compensated before Christmas.

When questioned on the sub-licensing agreement that allowed FBC to broadcast the George Sevens in September, the pair said the agreement was in favour of FBC.

A survey referenced by Government when announcing the Cross Carriage of Events Decree showed FBC enjoys 54 per cent viewership.

Under the decree, they must pay the same 54 per cent for all events that fall under the decree.

But the pair allege this was not the case under the sub-licensing agreement and FBC was paying less than Fiji TV for the sevens feed.

When contacted yesterday, Fiji TV board chairman Ioane Naiveli maintained the dismissals were based on performance and the board had met the day before to sign the resolutions.

But Mr Gonelevu said he had not received the resolutions from the board and Mr Naiveli did not say whether the board had provided these resolutions to Mr Naiveli. He also said the pair were paid five months salary in lieu of notice.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum would not comment on the matter yesterday and asked for all questions on the matter to be emailed to him for responses.

Questions sent to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and Nouzab Fareed yesterday remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

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