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SODELPA ‘Will Raise’ Broadcast Fee

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SODELPA ‘Will Raise’ Broadcast Fee FBC chief executive officer Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with chief financial officer Vimlesh Sagar before the Standing Committee for Economic Affairs in Parliament on June 21, 2018. Photo: Losirene Lacanivalu

SODELPA Member of Parliament Viliame Gavoka has indicated that a SODELPA Government may increase the Public Service Broadcast fee that Fiji Broadcasting Corporation receives from Government.

FBC was yesterday summoned before the Standing Committee for Economic Affairs. Chief executive officer Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and chief financial Officer Vimlesh Sagar presented responses to more than 20 questions the Committee had sent.

While making his presentation, Mr Sagar said while the annual Government fee to FBC was around $11million, the work they do in terms of public broadcasting was worth more than $30million.

He explained that it was wrongly classified as a grant. It was a fee because FBC provided acquittals for all the work they do as per the contract they have with Government.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added to the discussion and explained that very few broadcasters globally were in a situation similar to FBC.

Mr Gavoka continued to ask about the fee and how FBC managed to provide public broadcasting material worth more than $30million for a little more than $11million.

To this, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum responded that maybe if “your political party wins, you can give us $30million.”

To this, Mr Gavoka responded: “Definitely, definitely.”

For more than an hour, the FBC team presented their responses only to be asked the fifth time, this time by National Federation Party member of Parliament Prem Singh to explain again how the Government fee worked.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained, again, that Government as a customer paid a fee of a little over $11million. In return, FBC produced public broadcasting material with such local content.

Mr Gavoka further questioned why FBC could not produce a programme like the Bill Cosby Show. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained that perhaps the Bill Cosby Show was not the best example the MP could have used.

Meanwhile, Bill Cosby was convicted of sex offences committed during the shooting of the Bill Cosby Show.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained that to produce an American level soap required a lot of expertise in areas such as acting, writing etc.

Fiji, he said, unfortunately did not have that.

He explained that an expat had offered to do a soap in Fiji. To produce one 30-minute episode, FBC would need to spend around $6000. It costs them approximately $1000 to buy a 30-minute episode from overseas.

Questions were also asked about Walesi.

“If anyone doesn’t know what Walesi and our relationship, or no relationship is, they must have been living under a rock,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He went on to explain the role Walesi plays and how the two are different.

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