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Fiji TV Boss Quiet Over Exclusivity Licence

Fiji TV Boss Quiet Over Rejection Of Exclusivity Licence

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by Naziah Ali

SUVA (Wansolwara Online/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji Television Ltd chief executive Ken Clark was today tight-lipped over the Commerce Commission's decision not to grant the company a 10-year exclusive licence, Wansolwara Online reports.

But a source within Fiji TV said that the verdict was "flawed" as it had been based on submissions by just 0.033 per cent of the station's viewers.

Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, is also at odds with the decision, saying his government, not the Commerce Commission would have the final say, infuriating the commission's chairman, Thomas Raju.

The commission made its decision public yesterday after consultations were held with members of the Fiji public. It said "there is no justification to re-introduce the exclusive licence to Fiji TV Ltd".

Clark, approached by Wansolwara Online today, said he was not speaking to any media, including his own Fiji One News.

But a Fiji TV source, who did not wish to be named, said the commission's decision was based on submissions by only 1600 people which represented just 0.033 percent of the channel's total viewership.

Qarase told a press conference yesterday that there had to be special reasons for Fiji TV to be given an exclusive licence. He did not elaborate but was apparently referring to his government's blueprint aimed at increasing indigenous Fijian participation in business .

The Fiji government is the major stakeholder in the company owning 51 percent of shares through Yasana Holdings. The beneficiaries of Yasana are the 14 provinces.

Raju was quoted in The Fiji Times today saying that Fiji TV's state protection and sound financial position were also considered.

He was quoted in the Daily Post as saying he did not understand Qarase's comments since section 27 of the Fair Trading Act stated that if a provision of a contract "is an exclusive one or has the purpose, or is likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition, then the provision is unenforceable in so far as it confers the rights or benefits of consumers".

"He's the one that makes the law so it's really up to him," Raju said.

Television was first introduced to Fiji in October 1991 as a temporary service mainly to broadcast the 1991 rugby union World Cup.

Fiji Television Ltd was formed in 1994 to operate both free-to-air and pay TV services. It was granted exclusivity, which expired in May 2000.

Fiji TV had been operating on an ad hoc arrangement following the May 19 attempted coup. A new government was elected in August 2001.



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