The Regulation of National Spectrum Decree should be used for a more efficient allocation of frequencies among broadcasters and should not be used to revoke licences of any existing broadcasters, says the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum.
Under the decree, a decision for the cancellation or reallocation of any broadcast license cannot be challenged in a court, tribunal, commission or any other adjudicating body in Fiji.
“The manner of the review under this decree raises concern as there is no room for broadcasters to appeal the decision to revoke or reallocate licences by the Minister,” CCF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rev Akuila Yabaki said.
“If the purpose of the review is to make the allocation of broadcast frequencies fairer to the public of Fiji, then the decree should focus on that activity only. Existing licenses should not be revoked.”
“We are concerned that the Minister responsible for communications has the sole authority to allocate or reallocate broadcast spectrums. This is a non-transparent process and can personalise the decision-making. An independent statutory body would have been better suited for this role,” Rev Yabaki said.
Gazetted on 13 November 2009, the decree has caused tremendous concern due to the conversion of existing broadcast licenses to a temporary status, until such time as a review of currently allocated frequencies for broadcast is completed, and the broadcast spectrums are reallocated. The frequencies being reviewed include radio broadcast, television broadcast, microwave links, telecommunications or any other radio frequency spectrum between 3Hz to 300GHz.
CCF calls on the interim government to ensure the broadcasters are treated fairly and are not pressured into accepting any deals that may compromise their role as guardians of Freedom of Information and Opinion. “A free media is the cornerstone of a democratic society and should be promoted,” Rev Yabaki said.