Media

Sky Pacific to open new office in 6 months

Clearing out the backlog of customer care jobs and open customer care tickets that accumulated over a period of time remains the major challenge for Sky Pacific post-Cyclone Winston. Digicel Fiji Chief Executive Officer Mr. Darren McLean told Newswire that they are trying to restore services to all customers after the devastation left behind by TC […]

Staff Writers

April 20, 2016 12:42 pm

Clearing out the backlog of customer care jobs and open customer care tickets that accumulated over a period of time remains the major challenge for Sky Pacific post-Cyclone Winston.

Digicel Fiji CEO Mr. Darren McLean speaking on the changes on Sky Pacific. (Allison Penjueli/Newswire)
Digicel Fiji CEO Mr. Darren McLean speaking on the changes on Sky Pacific. (Allison Penjueli/Newswire)

Digicel Fiji Chief Executive Officer Mr. Darren McLean told Newswire that they are trying to restore services to all customers after the devastation left behind by TC Winston.

Thousands of homes were affected by power outages and in particular high winds which distrupted epuipments on the rooftops. So when we took over the business, there was several thousands of homes that need attention.

The focus is to get services up and going, and we are also adivising customers to please bare with us. We hope they understand why service maybe slow in reaching them.

McLean added that there are plans to open a new Sky Pacific office in Suva in 6 months. He also confirmed that the Fiji One office will stop taking Sky Pacific queries in two months and redirected to Digicel headquarters.

We are planning to open a new Sky Pacific office in a convinient location in Suva in over six months.

We have a great relationship with Fiji One team and they are helping us out with the transition period but we will be independent from Fiji One in the next eight weeks. Completly independent from the technical side.

Since Digicel Fiji has taken over Sky Pacific,  two new channels TVWAN and TVWAN Sports have been added and CEO Mclean said customers can expect more on Sky Pacific in the next few months.

The content of the two new channels will be tweaked over time, with 60 Minutes, Foreign Correspondent, Sesame Street, Hi5, English Preimiership football, English Rugby league and other rugby tournaments, alot of european football which are all brand new to fiji.

And there is more to come over then next one to two months.

Digicel Fiji took ownership of Sky Pacific on the 1st of April.

Digicel today has become the new owner of the Pacific’s leading satellite Pay TV service provider, Sky Pacific.

Digicel Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Darren McLean while switching on the new Sky Pacific service for the first time under Digicel’s ownership said that this was historic for Fiji and a milestone for Digicel in the region.

Digicel Fiji CEO Darren McLean with Fiji TV CEO Geoffrey Smith at the Sky Pacific control room. (Digicel)
Digicel Fiji CEO Darren McLean with Fiji TV CEO Geoffrey Smith at the Sky Pacific control room. (Digicel)

This is a big moment for Fiji as Digicel becomes the first international company to invest in a media business here since 2010.  The amended media decree came into force last year which enabled us to invest in Pay TV and embark on a new chapter in the story of Digicel in this region.

Sky Pacific has customers in 15 countries in the Pacific and is a unique platform for Digicel to broadcast our incredible sports properties and other entertainment to millions of customers across the region.

Mr. McLean said despite some restrictions, the acquisition of Sky Pacific will benefit all Fiji customers.

Digicel offers the best in entertainment for our customers and will continue to raise the bar for Pay TV through Sky Pacific.  Today also marks the introduction of a new channel in place of Fiji One – TVWAN, and next week TVWAN Sports will be added to the lineup.  We will introduce other channel changes over the coming months.

Mr. McLean said  the Digicel brand is already established as the leading Communications provider in the region and this is another step forward into a total Communications and Entertainment provider.

We are delighted that we will be able to provide customers with an enriched entertainment experience across multiple platforms. Our customers can now enjoy Fiji’s best mobile network, our Unwired 4G broadband, and the biggest and best Pay TV service all from Digicel.

Digicel today announced that a new premium channel, TVWAN Sports, will be added to the Sky Pacific platform tomorrow.

TVWAN Sports is a full-time sports channel and will screen premium rugby content, top football competitions from Europe, the NRL from Australia and national domestic club and provincial rugby matches from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Digicel Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Darren McLean said the new sports lineup is a result of research identifying sports content that our customers are interested in.

Sky Pacific holds the exclusive rights to rugby union’s popular Bledisloe Cup tests, the entire SANZAR Rugby Championships, Super Rugby and the ITM Cup rugby. A new channel was required to broadcast all the premium sports content that Digicel has secured for our customers. This week Sky Pacific will screen all Hong Kong 7s and Super Rugby matches live on Super Channel, TVWan Sports and TVWan.

We are currently working to acquire more sports content, events and tournaments. These discussions are progressing well and once we sign these deals, we will make further announcements.

Mclean also added that there will be some replacement of channels on the Sky Pacific platform and announcements on the changes will be made in the upcoming months. TVWAN Sports can be viewed on Channel 50 on the Sky Pacific platform.

Digicel Fiji expects to take control of Sky Pacific from Friday, April 1st, 2016. The transition of the ownership of Sky Pacific to the Digicel business follows last year’s announcement of the agreement to acquire the Sky Pacific operations.

The government granted Digicel three licenses to operate two weeks ago.

In a statement from Digicel, Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Fiji, Mr. Darren McLean said Digicel always looks to deliver the best of the best for its customers and will plan to raise the bar for Pay TV through Sky Pacific.

The start of this is the introduction of two new channels soon after Digicel takes over operations on April 1st – TVWAN and TVWAN Sports. The inclusion of TVWAN Sports means that viewers will now be able to enjoy high quality sports events 24 hours a day. The other channel, TVWAN will have a range of regional and international news, some popular TV soap operas and drama serials and plenty of other great programs. This channel will also include lifestyle and business stories from the Pacific.

Improvements to the channel lineup are being planned and Digicel is in discussions with various international content providers to acquire high quality TV shows and channels to boost the service and add value for our Sky Pacific customers. Only Sky Pacific will broadcast every Super Rugby match and the SANZAR Rugby Championship live on the Sky Pacific platform. All games on the popular HSBC World Rugby 7s Series, including the 7s events in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris will be screened live on the Super Channel on Sky Pacific.

Existing Sky Pacific customers will enjoy the new content without any action required.

Additionally, Digicel has plans to improve customer service with a centralised Customer Care center which will soon be operational and equipped to handle Sky Pacific enquiries. Payment processes will also be improved with additional payment options and locations being planned.

These improvements will be announced over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, Sky Pacific customers do not need to do anything different and payments should continue to be made to Sky as normal.

Another important change relates to Section 42A of the Media Industry Development Decree (2010), which restricts any local content from being carried on Sky Pacific after Digicel takes control.

In order to comply with the Decree, Digicel is required to remove Fiji One and the Pacific Channel from the Sky Pacific line up effective from April 1st, 2016.

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.

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

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.

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