At the heart of the confrontational position staked out by the Attorney-General and his brother in defence of the Television (Cross Carriage of Designated Events) Decree 2014 is that FBC TV (on 50 percent) actually has a larger audience than Fiji TV (43 percent – Mai TV on 7 percent). This point was made repeatedly by the A-G (and surprisingly by Fiji TV as well) in correspondence with World Rugby on December 3, and released through Facebook.
Cited in defence of the government’s position is a survey carried out by Clarus Research which the government first revealed at the end of May 2014, to justify the decree when it was enacted. The logic was clear – if FBC TV is the more popular station, then the government is surely justified in forcing the less popular station (Fiji TV) to share its exclusive sports content. Hence the critical significance of the research findings, that FBC TV had a 50 percent share of audience, and the importance of the credibility of Clarus Research.
But nowhere in the government’s release or local media reporting was it explained that Clarus Research is the in-house polling company of Qorvis – that the regime pays Qorvis for lobbying and public relations services, and that Qorvis has been at the heart of much of the government’s dirtiest media tricks, and those of other repressive regime clients around the world.
Unusually there is also no reference to the detail of the survey, not even an explanatory press release, on either the Qorvis/Clarus site, FBC’s site or the Fiji government portal. And nothing shows when you use the search function on the sites either.
So this phantom Clarus survey is the basis on which government policy has been created, a military decree issued, and a train-wreck of a showdown with World Rugby forced. Yet none of the customary information about the survey, including the methodology (telephone interview, face to face etc.), the poll size, the date and time of the survey, the likely margin of error, is available.
It is the very opposite of the ‘independent’ survey that both the Attorney-General and Fiji TV assured World Rugby in their correspondence.
Other points to note about this whole painful saga:
- If you want to understand Fiji TV’s weirdly craven position, willing to debase itself in front of World Rugby and support FBC TV, note that their six-month license was last extended by the Attorney-General in June this year, effective from June 30. So the Attorney-General literally has his foot on their corporate neck, with Fiji TV’s licence expiring on December 31 this year
- Fiji TV’s chairman Padam Lala resigned from his position at the beginning of the week. It’s not clear why.
- In Fiji TV’s submission to World Rugby dated December 3 the Suva accountant Iowane Naiveli signed, and was named as Fiji TV chairman. On December 5, in a ‘market announcement’ Iowane Naiveli was listed only as a director and not chairman. Which is he, and did Fiji TV seek to mislead World Rugby about its office bearers?
- A Google search of ‘Cross Carriage Broadcasting Regulations’ show that Singapore is the only country with similar legislation. (Not Australia, India, the UK and USA – as the Attorney-General has claimed in writing to World Rugby. These have anti-siphoning legislation which is completely different).
- In Singapore a cross-carriage law was brought in to regulate two competing pay-TV networks (SingTel and StarHub) and to ensure that sports fans who had a monthly subscription for one service didn’t have to buy a separate service for the other company just to access one of several listed high-profile sports events. The situation in Fiji could not be more different – where the competition is between three free-to-air TV stations (only one of which has a pay-TV operation).
The Fijian Government is still negotiating with World Rugby in relation to their decision to withhold Fiji’s broadcast feed for the Dubai leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
In a letter to the Head of Legal and Legislative Affairs and Head of Commercial, Broadcast and Marketing yesterday, Attorney General and Communications Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum reiterated rugby has a huge following in Fiji and that the manner in which until recently rugby has been televised has meant that not all Fijians have been able to watch such major rugby events.
Sayed-Khaiyum said the intention of the law is to ensure that all Fijians get to see the Designated Events like rugby.
The Communications Minister said they also fail to understand how the sharing of the broadcast will in any way undermine the revenue of World Rugby from Fiji given that Fiji TV while sharing the feed will fully pay its license fee to the World Rugby and will at the same time generate revenue for itself through payments by other broadcasters.
Sayed-Khaiyum said it is quite surprising for World Rugby to firstly allege that it did not consent to the sharing of the feed for Gold Coast sevens when it was shared and World Rugby is adamant to protect its commercial interest.
He added that it took World Rugby almost two months after the Gold Coast sevens to write to the Fijian Government, just three days before the Dubai sevens with an ultimatum to engage in discussions to maintain exclusivity for Fiji TV, despite Fiji TV offering to give up its exclusivity and sharing the broadcast.
Sayed-Khaiyum said they have also engaged the New Zealand Rugby Union to intervene on their behalf adding that New Zealand Rugby has a strong and deep understanding of the challenges faced by both players and fans in Fiji.
Meanwhile, in his letter to the Chairman of New Zealand Rugby Union Brent Impey, Sayed-Khaiyum said for years only Fiji TV or its pay TV subsidiary could show the event depriving many Fijians who were ardent rugby fans and lived in remote part of Fiji or came from deprived and lower socio‑economic background.
In his letter, he further said that Fiji TV does not have network coverage all over Fiji and that an independent survey by an American Polling Company, Clarus Research Group reveals that Fiji TV has 43 percent market share while FBC TV has 50 percent market share.
Meanwhile, Fiji TV in their letter to the Head of Legal and Legislative Affairs and Head of Commercial, Broadcast and Marketing yesterday reiterated that Fiji TV is willing to share the feed to other broadcasters in Fiji.
The letter signed by the Chairman Iowane Naiveli and Director Nouzab Fareed said as the licensed broadcaster, they fully support the sharing of the broadcast of the World Rugby designated events and fully support the intention of the Government through the Decree in promoting rugby as a sport to all Fijians by making the broadcast of rugby events accessible to all Fijians.
They have also requested World Rugby to immediately make the feed available for the World Rugby Sevens Series for Dubai as well as other international rugby events covered under their license.
The Television Cross Carriage of Designated Events Decree brought in by the Fijian government earlier this year requires all the free to air TV stations to televise designated events which include World Rugby events like the HSBC Rugby Sevens Series tournaments.
Fiji TV was the exclusive rights holder of the 2014/ 2015 HSBC Sevens Series to air the games on the free to air channel, Fiji One however under the decree they have to share the rights with the other two stations, FBC TV and Mai TV.
World Rugby said it did not consent to the sharing of the television feed for the HSBC Sevens World Series with anyone other than Fiji TV who hold the exclusive broadcasting rights to show the 2014 and 2015 Sevens World Series. Source: Fijivillage News