The Opposition members of Parliament want the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to call for an inquiry into the termination of contracts to Fiji Television Chief Executive Tevita Gonelevu and Head of Content Tanya Waqanika. Professor Biman Prasad said the removal of Gonelevu and Waqanika was clearly based on a government directive through the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fijian Holdings Chief Executive Nouzab Fareed and Fiji TV’s acting Chairman Iowane Naiveli.
“We base our conclusion on Mr Naiveli’s public statement reports by the media on Wednesday; the Fiji Times reported Mr Naiveli as saying that “(Fiji TV) Board discussed changes to in management to ensure government starts giving Fiji TV licence to operate longer than six months, We need Fiji TV to survive, Once the company survives, employment of its staff survives, so does their salaries”,” Prof. Biman said.
He added this was not the first time that the board has been forced to unjustifiably remove their employees or transfer them based on government directive. Prof. Biman said this happened in 2010 where two senior staffs were transferred from the newsroom and last year the same happened to sports journalist Satish Narain. Opposition have now asked that the two be reinstated and that they be given a chance to reply.
“We therefore want government to do the following and provide answers in the interest of transparency and accountability: The Prime Minister as Minister for I-Taukei Affairs must institute an inquiry into the senior management of Fijian Holdings to ascertain if there is collusion between the senior management and any senior member of his government because there is clearly interference into the commercial operations of FHL and its entity Fiji TV. Reveal to the people of Fiji the terms of the sub-licensing agreement between Fiji TV and FBC TV because there is a strong perception of the agreement being lop-sided and in favour of FBC TV. Reveal to the people of Fiji of Fiji TV received funds for sharing of live feed of the Gold Coast 7s because while the FBC CEO told the media the money was sent to the Ministry of Communications, Fiji TV CEO said they did not receive any money. Re-instate Mr Gonelevu and Ms Waqanika to their respective positions and in the interest of natural justice and then carry out an investigation to ascertain whether or not they undermined the commercial interest of Fiji TV Ask the AG to release correspondence of approval from FIFA and World Rugby endorsing the sharing of exclusive feed for the FIFA World cup in June/July and Gold Coast 7s in October. "We believe that the PM should take decisive action now,” Prof. Biman said.
He added this would ensure that there were no erosions of investor confidence due to the fear of government interference as well as bury the perception that Fiji TV is being gradually forced into merging with the fledgling FBC TV that until the end of the year owed more than $20m to Fiji Development Bank through a loan guaranteed by government and taxpayers. Attempts to get comments from the Attorney General yesterday remained futile. Source: Fijilive, 19/12/2014