Digicel Receives License To Deliver Pay TV Services In Fiji

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

12-year license comes after company acquires Sky Pacific

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 9, 2016) – Government has granted Digicel Fiji a 12-year licence to fully operate its pay television — Sky Pacific — six months after formally acquiring the country's only pay TV station from previous owners Fiji Television Ltd for $5.75million [US$2.72 million].

In an announcement yesterday, Communications Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the three licences, broadcast licence under the Television Decree, spectrum licence under the regulations of the National Spectrum Decree and a special licence under the Media Industry Development Decree was given to the company on Monday. "Digicel has been issued its licence. As you know, it had purchased Sky Pacific and its licence came into effect from yesterday (Monday)," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He said Sky Pacific could not show any local content on its pay channels unless they were messages of national importance that needed to be disseminated.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Digicel could not show any advertisement unless an agreement with the three existing free-to-air channels (FBC TV, Fiji One, Mai TV) was made.

"They (Digicel) cannot advertise on Sky Pacific. Advertisements cannot take place unless all the three free-to-air providers agree to it. So all three of them have veto powers."

He said strict monitoring would be done by the Communications Ministry on advertisements aired by Sky Pacific.

"If the Sky channel goes off air, they have to pay a rebate to the subscribers so if they are off air from four to eight hours, there is a 1 per cent rebate, eight to sixteen hours, there is a 2 per cent rebate, 16 to 24 hours there is a 3 per cent rebate and plus there is an additional 3 per cent for every 24 hours that the particular service is off air."

The pay television would show 24 channels, the existing ones and will introduce a new channel called TVWAN soon.

Company CEO Darren McLean said he was happy to get the licences from the Fijian Government after an announcement was made in September last year about the purchase of Sky Pacific.

"I want to thank the Fiji Government and the Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for his commitment in helping to turn this opportunity into a reality.

"I would also like to thank our new partner Fiji Television Ltd, who has been co-operating well with us and the Government in this process. There is a lot more work to do to plan the transition from Fiji TV to Digicel ownership until such time there is no change to Sky Pacific operations and channel line-up.

Fiji Television Ltd CEO Geoffery Smith said since Fiji TV was a listed company under the South Pacific Stock Exchange, he would not be able to release any market sensitive information at this stage.

"We are, however, in the process of collating all the relevant information which we will then release first to the SPSE accordingly in due course for the benefit of our shareholders and key stakeholders," Mr Smith said.

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