#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-11-15

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Regime begs EU for Sugar Funding

Fiji's dictatorship regime is now begging the European Union to release the $350 million grant the EU has withheld as assistance to cane farmers to boost their sugarcane crop.

Since the military coup of December 2006, the EU has so far cancelled allocations worth $172 million. The entire $350 million was a grant.

During a meeting between the regime and the EU in Brussels this week, the interim Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubabola, who accompanied the regime's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama to the meeting, is reported by Fiji Television as telling EU officials that the sugar funding has serious socio-economic implications.

Fiji TV reported that Kubuabola told the EU that the reduced sugar earnings was barely sufficient to neet operational costs of industry stakeholders and the withholding of the EU grant would be detrimental for the sustainability of the sugar industry.

Kubuabola's plea for EU help contradicts the stand taken by Bainimarama as well as Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry when he was the regime's Finance and Suar Minister.

Chaudhry had made it clear that the commitments made to the EU by the regime in April 2007 were not cast in stone, meaning the regime should not hold elections by March 2009 as required by the EU.

In June this year, Bainimarama told farmers that the regime would not look for overseas funding to revive the sugar industry.

He told the farmers to bite the bullet as the regime could not do anything if the EU decided not to release the funds.

The regime's change of tune comes as the sugar indusry is encountering one of is worst seasons in history.

We had earlier reported that cane production had fallen from 3.2 million tonnes in 2006 to 2.37 million tonnes last year. And the 2009 cane crop would be around 2 million tonnes or less.

The sugar production has declined from 310,000 tonnes in 2006 to 207,000 tonnes in 2008 with production declining below 200,000 tonnes for 2009.

Friday, November 20, 2009

NZ firm carried out spectrum study

Ponsonby Auckland based firm Streamcom was hired by the dictatorship regime to carry out a study of spectrum in Fiji, according to the interim regime.

The regime claims that based on the study, it has promulgated the Spectrum Decree nullifying the permanent status of all existing licence for frequencies used for radio broadcast, television broadcast, telecommunications, microwave links or any other service which uses radio frequency spectrum from 3HZ to 300GHz.

A cursory glance of information available on the web pages of Streamcom indicates the company specialises in Information Technology like creating websites, broadcast system design services, IT management.

According to the information, Streamcom and its subsidiaries do not have the expertise to carry out studies on spectrums or radio frequencies.

Our sources have established that the management of Streamcom was first visited in New Zealand by Fiji Broadcasting Commission Ltd (FBCL) general manager Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum earlier this year. Sources say Riyaz visited Streamcom after being made aware of the IT company by Maori TV.

Streamcom maintained Pacific and Maori Radio, including iwi stations and the struggling Pacific Media Network, which runs the Auckland based 531pi ad NiuFM stations.

FBCL has already obtained a $17 million loan from Fiji Development Bank to set up a television station.

Coupfourpointfive has been told that the decision by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to make all broadcast licenses and frequencies temporary with immediate effect means that FBCL will be the biggest beneficiary of this Decree because frequencies used by Fiji Television can now be re-allocated entirely or shared by FBCL’s new television service without having to invest millions to set up transmitters or carry out a marketing campaign because people already have antennas and have their television sets tuned for the current frequency used by Fiji TV’s free channel.

Similarly, sources point out that rival and private radio station Communication Fiji Ltd, which has established itself as Fiji’s leading radio station, will be forced to either share or give away the frequencies of its popular radio station networks to FBCL to make it a permanent mouthpiece for the regime.

Our sources have established that Streamcom did not carry out any consultations or meetings with any broadcaster or existing licence holder.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Analysis of National Spectrum Decree

The Regulation of National Spectrum Decree that was promulgated by the regime appointed President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau bestows absolute powers on the interim Communications Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to control the allocation and re-allocation of frequencies used for all types of broadcast in Fiji.

The commencement of the Decree, dated 13th November, has cancelled all existing licenses and use of radio frequencies by Fiji’s radio television broadcasters, radio telephone operators etc. Radio and Television broadcasters using frequencies for many years are now operating on the frequencies on a temporary basis, subject to determination by the interim Minister (Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum), which may or may not result in the issuance of a new licence to them - 3(1) of Decree.

3(3) of the Decree states that no existing licensee or any other person or body shall be entitled to any compensation or any other remedy in relation to the cancellation, reallocation or any other action or decision whatsoever taken by the interim Minister or his agent. The Decree further states this is despite such action or decision’s impact on the allocation or use of spectrum, and, frequency or microwave links by the existing licensee (broadcasters) or any other persons.

3(4) is yet another clear signal of the regime’s interference and control of the judiciary following the abrogation of the Constitution in April. The Administration of Justice Decree threw out of the Court system all cases challenging the military coup of December 2006, termination of employment by the military of chief executives and other key post holders, the validity of the regime and the abrogation of the Constitution.

Similarly 3(4) of the latest Decree states no Court, Tribunal, Commission or any other adjudicating body shall have the jurisdiction to accept hear, determine or in an way entertain any challenges whatsoever (including application for judicial review), or award compensation to any one whose licence or frequency has been reallocated or cancelled.

5(1) of the Decree empowers the regime’s Minister (Sayed-Khaiyum) to allocate or reallocate frequencies as he deems just and fair in the national interest.

Part 6 of the Decree empowers him to make decisions and act in a manner that is fair, economically efficient and encourages competition in the market.

These two sections of the Decree clearly indicate that Fiji Broadcasting Commission Ltd, managed by Aiyaz’s younger brother Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will be the major beneficiary. It also mans that should Fiji TV’s licence to operate its free channel is either re-allocated or cancelled, FBCL’s proposed TV service will be assigned the frequency since it has nationwide coverage. A similar scenario exists for Communication Fiji Limited (private radio station) networks that have more extensive coverage throughout Fiji than FBCL stations.

Another beneficiary of this latest decision by Sayed-Khaiyum could be Mai TV, operated by former Fiji TV employee Richard Broadbridge. Mai TV has very limited coverage in basically urban centres in the Central Division and two centres in the Western Division.

Mai TV has secured the rights for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, which it is advertising as its prized catch. Sources point out that under the broadcast rights, Mai TV will have to show the entire World Cup throughout Fiji, which it had promised to do earlier this year.

They say since the World Cup is about 7 months away, there is no chance of Mai TV expanding its coverage area to throughout Fiji as this requires a substantial investment of millions of dollars.

Sources say no one should be surprised if Sayed-Khaiyum temporarily reallocates Fiji One TV frequency to Mai TV for the duration of the World Cup next year to ensure the struggling television broadcaster is able to fulfill its obligations.

Apart from radio, television broadcasters and radio telephone operators, all other users of a frequency between 3Hz and 300GHz are required to fully disclose their spectrum or frequencies. This also includes telecommunication operators as well as diplomatic missions that use secure communication frequencies to communicate abroad from Fiji.

Sources say this will allow the regime to eavesdrop on all communications happening both within Fiji as well as from Fiji to overseas destinations since they will have full and unrestricted access and knowledge of the frequencies. Sources say opponents of the regime and pro-democracy activists will be the biggest targets of the regime.

This is possible because every detail about the use of a certain frequency or microwave signal has to be submitted to the regime’s Communications Minister, instead of basic information that has been the case. The Decree empowers the regime to designate a ministry o telecommunications authority to monitor compliance by a licensee.

It means that no mode of communication will be safe and fool proof, which is further encroachment on the diminishing rights, freedoms and liberties of Fiji citizens and others residing in the dictatorship country.

Part 7 of the Decree states that any operator, broadcaster or person who uses a frequency in contravention of the allocation made by the regime’s Minister can be fined up to $100,000 or be imprisoned for up to 5 years.

And any one who fails to disclose full information about a frequency to the regime’s Minister can also be fined up to $100,000 or imprisoned for up to 5 years.

On the other hand those losing a licence or frequency have no legal redress for justice or compensation.

Sources point out that the provisions of the Spectrum Decree also indicates the power and influence of Aiyaz Sayed–Khaiyum in the regime despite some senior military officers like Pita Driti’s attempts to have him sacked.

Bainimarama meets with EC

Fiji's interim prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has met representatives from the European Commission in Brussels.

During his meeting he told the EC reps that his regime is committed to:
- upholding the rule of law
- strengthening the judiciary
- respecting human rights and democratic principles

In a statement, Bainimarama described the meeting as fruitful and constructive.

"Government believes that this informal meeting can now be taken to another level leading to the resumption of formal “consultations”, an objective of which is to review the Agreement signed in October 2007 between the European Union and Fiji on the political situation in Fiji."

Bainimarama briefed officials from the EC on the programs of institutional, judicial, constitutional and electoral reforms that are in place to begin in 2010 and in subsequent years and the reasons necessitating these reforms.

"The EC acknowledged the immense spectrum of work to be undertaken by the Government in the areas of reforms itemized above and look forward to the resumption of the consultation process to discuss and identify where and how it can constructively engage in the reform agenda highlighted by Government in the next five years," he said in a statement.

According to the statement, the two sides also discussed issues pertaining to the Strategic Framework for Change, the National Dialogue Forum and the Public Emergency Regulation.

Read full Decree - http://www.mediafire.com/?yzjhfmm0i5w

Regime creates broadcast media Decree

The interim regime has tightened its noose around broadcast media by promulgating the Regulation of National Spectrum Decree(Decree No. 48 of 2009).

The Decree was promulgated by the regime appointed President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on 13th November 2009. It is the brainchild of interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

As the interim minister for Public Enterprises and Communication, Sayed-Khaiyum is not only in charge of the communications sector but also Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Ltd (Radio Fiji).

FBCL is managed by his younger brother, Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and this Decree which nullifies the permanent status of all frequencies from 3Hz to 300GHz, is mostly aimed at assisting FBCL to launch its national state run television service on frequencies and infrastructure already installed and used by Fiji Television Company Limited.

Sources say the Decree has now converted all television and radio licenses to temporary status. The Decree gives the Communications minister – in this case Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum - absolute powers to revoke a broadcaster’s licence to use a frequency that it had been allocated.

Any broadcaster who falls victims of this draconian decree is prohibited from challenging the decision in any Court, Tribunal or Arbitration and cannot claim compensation.

We will have a comprehensive analysis of the Spectrum Decree and its intentions later.

Read full decree here - http://www.mediafire.com/?1hytjkyyivz

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bainimarama tells NZ to "butt out"

Fiji's interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama has spoken out for the first time about the eviction of New Zealand's High Commissioner a fortnight ago.

He told TVNZ's Sunday programme that the New Zealand government needs to "butt out".

"We've got to stop this. You've got to stop this bullying. If you bully people there will be some retaliation," he said.

"We're trying to send New Zealand a message. New Zealand has been telling us that they want to destroy our economy, destroy our judiciary and we want to tell New Zealand stop there," Bainimarama said.

He told Sunday's journalist Janet McIntyre he didn't care if his action has resulted in a decline of tourists.

"Well if there's going to be dwindling numbers because of that - so be it."

Watch video - http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/bainimarama-s-message-nz-butt-3145106/video