The Board and Executive Management of both Fiji Television Limited and its majority owners Fijian Holdings Limited must immediately clarify whether it is implementing a redundancy plan to drastically downsize the company following the acquisition of Sky Pacific pay TV by Digicel.
In the last week or so judging from the content and quality of news bulletins of Fiji One News, as well as information gathered by us, shows a demoralized workforce due to the imposition of the redundancy plan as well as interference in the operations, especially news by the executive management.
Worse still, postings on social media claim from midnight October 1st, Fiji One, the free-to-air channel on Sky Pacific will be shut down, thereby denying thousands of Sky Pacific subscribers access to Fiji One. If this is true, then Sky Pacific subscribers will miss live coverage of Rugby World Cup.
They will be forced to purchase and install ordinary antennae to watch Fiji One. This is unacceptable. There has been no public announcement or notification by either Fiji TV or Digicel. The Media Industry Development Authority (Amendment) Act disallows airing of free channels on pay TV but to suddenly and without notice enforce this is disgraceful.
This puts the role of Fijian Holdings Limited and Fiji TV Director Nouzab Fareed, Fiji TV CEO Geoffrey Smith and the Board of Fiji TV, chaired by Apakuki Kurusiga, an unsuccessful Fiji First candidate in the general elections, firmly in the spotlight.
Mr Fareed has taken it upon himself to become the spokesman for Fiji TV’s operational and human resource matters ever since FHL took over the company. He announced the sale of Sky Pacific to Digicel as well as about right-sizing of Fiji TV saying it was overstaffed.
But he categorically denied any redundancy plan. Fiji One TV News reported Mr Fareed saying on 6th September that they were looking at ways to improve the company’s financial performance but redundancy will not happen.
“…there is no redundancy plan in Fiji TV. But we have agreed the number is to many so we are looking at ways for example we may take some of the staff to Fiji TV to FHL group ad if any staff is willing to go we will give some sort of assistance, on redundancy the answer is no”, Mr Fareed said on 6th September.
The following questions need to be honestly answered by Fiji TV Executive Management, Mr Fareed or the Fiji TV Board headed by Mr Kurusiga: –
1. Have the owners (FHL), which is government controlled and Board of Fiji TV decided to reduce the number of staff to less than 50?
2. Why is the Company planning a redundancy, both voluntary and enforced redundancy in the next one month?
3. Is Mr Fareed misleading the people of Fiji by saying there will be no redundancy?
4. How many Fiji TV staff is going to be redeployed to FHL as indicated by Mr Fareed?
5. Is Fiji One News totally independent of any interference or monitoring by both FHL, which is government controlled, or the Executive Management?
6. Are decisions made by FHL and Fiji TV in respect of human resource and operations of the company independent of any influence of the Government and the Minister responsible for Communications through FHL and its CEO Mr Fareed, Fiji TV Board Chairman Mr Kurusiga and Fiji TV CEO Mr Geoffrey Smith?
These are critical questions that need immediate answers.