THE government has implemented a decree which puts an end to exclusive rights for the television coverage of important events including sports.
The Television (Cross-Carriage of Designated Events) Decree 2014 was revealed by the Attorney-General and Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday.
The decree expands access to coverage of important televised events by requiring all of Fiji's free-to-air television broadcasters to air them.
The events include the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup (both 7s and 15s), the Rugby League World Cup, the IRB Sevens Series, the World Netball Championship, the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Pacific Games, the Pacific Mini Games, the Coca-Cola Games, state funerals, general election results, the national budget address and parliament proceedings (question and answer sessions).
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said in future the free-to-air television broadcasters which included FBC TV, Fiji TV and Mai TV must share the cost of the rights to the designated events as stipulated in the decree.
He said the amount each had to pay was in direct proportion to its share of the market.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the market share was based on an independent viewership and listenership survey conducted by Clarus Research Group, an internationally-respected survey research firm based in Washington, DC.
According to the viewership research, 50 per cent preferred FBC TV, 43 per cent Fiji One while seven per cent watch Mai TV.
"We will be buying the rights to these events as a nation, rather than as individual companies. This means that all Fijians now has a right to see all these events," he said.
"Under the new law, everybody who has access to at least one free-to-air station including FBC, Fiji TV or Mai TV will now be able to view coverage of the designated events."
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said those station which have already acquired the rights to broadcast the designated events will have to submit the information to the ministry by Monday.
"All television companies are obligated to show designated events unless they can demonstrate to the Ministry of Communication that it is commercially not viable for them."
Mai TV, which holds the exclusive right to broadcast the 2014 FIFA World Cup, said the decree could assist the country in gaining more events.
However, company general manager Marc Santos said there needed to be a balanced process of appraisal for what was involved for each broadcaster in attaining those sports rights to ensure fair dispersal of those costs.
Mai TV has the smallest coverage and the only company of the three broadcasters consigned to the UHF frequency and this has affected its ability to compete since day one. He said the ministry has also revealed further plans for its national digital platform.
He added the new decree, in partnership with the implementation of this new digital "level playing field" would greatly add to the benefit of viewers across Fiji.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, who met with the executives of the three broadcasters yesterday, said all is "fine" with the new decree.