Thursday, November 19, 2009

National Spectrum Decree Gives All Power to Minister

Post by: Coupfourpointfive


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 -


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

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