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Digicel finally granted permission to operate Sky Pacific

Digicel Fiji has been given three licenses for 12 years to fully operate Sky Pacific, six months after formally acquiring the pay television station from previous owners Fiji Television Limited. Attorney-General and Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in a press conference this morning outlined three different licenses given to Digicel Fiji, effective as of yesterday: […]

Peni Shute

March 8, 2016 11:13 am

Digicel Fiji has been given three licenses for 12 years to fully operate Sky Pacific, six months after formally acquiring the pay television station from previous owners Fiji Television Limited.

Attorney-General and Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in a press conference this morning outlined three different licenses given to Digicel Fiji, effective as of yesterday:

  • Broadcast license under the “Television Decree”.
  • Spectrum license under the regulations of the National Spectrum Decree.
  • Special license under the Media Industry Development Decree.
Attorney-General and Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during a press conference this morning. Source: Peni Shute / Newswire.
Attorney-General and Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during a press conference this morning. (Peni Shute/Newswire).

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

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said the Ministry of Communications would be monitoring advertisements aired by Sky Pacific.  He added there were service level commitments built within the license to protect consumers.

If the Sky channel goes off air they have to pay a rebate to the subscribers, so if they are off air to four to eight hours there is a one percent rebate, eight to sixteen hours there is a two percent rebate, sixteen to twenty-four hours there is a three percent rebate and plus there is an additional three percent for every twenty-four hours that the particular service is off air.

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said  Sky Pacific would be showing twenty-four channels of which most of them were existing channels. The Minister said viewers can expect a new channel called “TVWAN”.

Digicel Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Darren McLean was happy to get the licenses from the 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 of Communications, Mr. 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 Limited, who has been cooperating 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 lineup.

The focus in the short term is to keep the business focused and delivering for customers, while we plan the improvements that are necessary over the coming months.

Channels of Sky Pacific announced by the Minister today:

  • Super Channel
  • MTV
  • Nickelodeon
  • Comedy Central
  • ESPN
  • History
  • Lifetime
  • FYI
  • Toonami
  • Warner TV
  • CNN
  • Net Geo Wild
  • BCC
  • Star Plus
  • Colours
  • Zee
  • FX
  • Fox Crime
  • Fox Family Movies
  • NHK
  • Trinity

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said if Digicel through Sky Pacific wished to add additional channels permission must be granted by the Director of Communications.

Should there be any new channels that they wish to provide, they of course need to get permission of the Director of Communication. The standards that have been set by the Media Industry Development Decree such as advertising to children, pornography etc will still apply to them also so all these standards that have been put in place under the Media Industry Development Decree will apply to this particular licensing also.

Digicel announces Sky Pacific acquisition

On September 17 last year, Digicel announced it had reached an agreement to acquire Sky Pacific  from Fiji Television Ltd.

Digicel & Fijian Holdings exchange MOUs last month during Denis O'Brien's Fiji visit. In this photo: Nouzab Fareed, Iowane Naiveli, Digicel Group Chairman Denis O’Brien, Apakuki Kurusiga and Darren Mclean
Digicel & Fijian Holdings exchange MOUs last month during Denis O’Brien’s Fiji visit lat year.
(L-R): Nouzab Fareed, Iowane Naiveli, Digicel Group Chairman Denis O’Brien, Apakuki Kurusiga and Darren Mclean. (Digicel).

Darren McLean, CEO of Digicel Fiji said:

This is another step forward in our ongoing commitment to giving our customers the best of the best, We are excited at the opportunities this deal brings and looking forward to sharing these with our valued customers.

Mr. Mclean had said the deal was  subject to the necessary regulatory approvals. Existing Sky Pacific customers’ service would remain unaffected as the business changes ownership.

Digicel cautioned against Sky Pacific announcements

In October last year, the Ministry of Communications had cautioned Digicel not to make public statements on Sky Pacific until the Ministry has made a decision on their licence application.

Communication Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Digicel is a foreign company that must obtain a licence to provide subscription based television services in Fiji.

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said:

Digicel Fiji has made several statements in regards to the acquisition of Sky Pacific Service, a division of Fiji TV, prior to being issued the appropriate license by the Fijian Government.

Until such time, no statements should be made regarding the operational control of or any content to be shown by Sky Pacific Service.

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum had confirmed Digicel had applied for a licence to the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry would make a decision in due course.

It is premature for Digicel to announce any programming or content materials before the issuance of a license. Any such statement can prejudice and pre-empt Government’s authority in this matter and is highly inappropriate.

(Additional reporting by Calvin Prasad and Lice Movono-Rova).

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