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PM Bainimarama - Remarks for FBC Television opening
FBC Complex, Suva
Fri. 25th Nov., 2011, 1900 Hours
FBC Chairman, CEO and Team;
My fellow Fijians.
I am pleased to welcome you here this evening—along with everyone tuning in from their homes—to celebrate the launch of FBC television, along with the opening of FBC’s refurbished broadcasting house, and new TV and radio studios.
For all Fijians, FBC is a household name. It is the oldest broadcaster in our country—for decades bringing news, information and entertainment to every corner of Fiji by AM and FM radio.
Today marks a rebirth for FBC. Through one of the largest investments in media technology in Fiji’s history, we are reaffirming FBC’s place in Fijian society—making it relevant for a new generation as the national broadcaster.
FBC will now have radio and television service. This is a feature of national broadcasters throughout the world—such as the BBC and ABC.
And we have FBC’s team to thank—and congratulate.
Through hard work FBC’s Chairman, CEO, and the FBC team have made today possible. Not just from a logistical standpoint, but also in terms of finances.
The sheer hard work, enthusiasm and energy they have brought to make FBC profitable—whereas previously it was not—and to maintain transparent operations has established a high level of confidence within and outside the organization.
They have also proven that FBC is commercially-viable.
This has encouraged—indeed, enabled—Government to extend to it the Public Service Broadcasting, or PSB, contract for the provision of television and radio services.
PSB allows for the airing of programs that are not necessarily commercially viable to run.
Most importantly, it ensures connectivity with rural and remote areas. I know that as I speak people are watching free-to-air TV for the first time in Kadavu, Ovalau, the Interior of Naitasiri, the Vaturu Dam area, Yasawas/ Mamanucas and Bua.
I also understand more people up in the north will be able to access free-to-air TV for the first time. This is important for bringing all of us together as a nation.
So in many ways, PSB should be seen an investment. Just as other ownership entities make capital investments in their media organizations, we have done so with FBC. Indeed, investing in FBC means investing in Fijians, and investing in our future.
FBC is finally competing on a level playing field. After a period of time, the PSB fee will gradually diminish.
As such, FBC will have to maintain a fine balance between public service broadcasting and commercialization.
The competition FBC will bring to the media market in Fiji will be good for everyone.
It is good for viewers—as it provides increased choice of stations from which to get news, information and entertainment.
It is good for local artists—as it will encourage local talent to engage in creative media. Indeed I look forward to seeing more local programming, as well as the synergies that will come of FBC’s unique position—having radio and TV capabilities.
It is good for media professionals—as it will increase their value by spurring competition among the media organizations.
It is good for businesses—as it will provide another channel and audience base for advertising.
It will be up to FBC to provide the best programming that will appeal to a majority of Fijians. And we have high hopes.
Indeed, though responsible practices, FBC will also help to restore Fiji’s credibility on the issue of copyright enforcement.
The sound judgment of FBC, its leaders and staff will ensure that international conventions will be observed—as it previously has not been the case with other media outlets.
As my Government strives to empower Fijians—particularly in the area of telecommunications—we maintain high expectations about responsible use.
FBC is the continuation of many efforts our Government has made—and the role model for many more.
As I announced in the Budget Address this morning, my Government has taken many steps to establish a leadership position for Fiji in telecommunications which intertwines with radio and television.
Since 2008, we have moved aggressively to liberalize this Industry.
We removed the exclusivities and monopolies. We reduced tariffs on telecom accessories and equipment. We launched a national broadband policy—the first for a South Pacific island nation.
Fiji’s Spectrum Plan also led the adjustment and reallocation of radio frequencies, opening the way for higher speed data and voice communication. We target full digitization in the next 2-3 years.
We are for certain poised to be a leader in this area.
All of this is part of my Government’s commitment to empower Fijians; modernize our nation; and strengthen our economy.
But it demands personal responsibility, transparency and accountability.
The FBC team has proven themselves, and we look forward to tuning in to watch what’s ahead.
Congratulations again to the FBC Chairman, CEO and team. I know your work will help to bring our nation even closer together.
I wish all of you—including those watching this broadcast live—a very good evening.