Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama last week announced the creation of a National Digital Television Platform to run the country’s DSO. The announcement came at an event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.
The decision to make the announcement at the FBC event demonstrated a thawing of the relationship between government and the FBC. Last year the government’s Attorney General was strongly critical of the FBC around its approach to shifting to digital. The A-G issued a statement saying
It is highly irresponsible that the Board and management of Fiji TV saw fit to unilaterally make an announcement on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting without first seeking clarification from the Department of Communications.
10 months on, the FBC will takeover the ongoing running of the new digital platform once government has set it up.
Fiji’s government worked with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to plan its DSO “built on best international practice”. The ITU report recommended that a single platform, independently managed, was the only commercially-viable approach for Fiji.
The new platform will, according to Bainimarama’s announcement reach 94% of the population and deliver better quality images and sound than the present analogue system. FBC will set up a separate company to issue channel licences for the new platform, and will receive no preferential treatment on access or pricing.
“The system will be completely transparent,” said Bainimarama.
As with digital systems elsewhere, Fijians will need to buy a decoder. FBC chief executive, Riyaz Sayed–Khaiyum said the switchover would be “simple and cost effective” for viewers.
Fiji’s Department of Communications will take responsibility for the creation of the platform, although no time-frame was announced.