Regulator's power subject to Cabinet oversight
The powers of the Regulator will now be subject to Cabinet or Ministerial oversight if a bill before Parliament becomes law.
The amendment to the Telecommunications Act 2005 was tabled in Parliament during its final session of the year on Tuesday.
The move follows a tumultuous year for telecommunications regulation in Samoa including a prolonged dispute between the Regulator and the nation's TV stations over the transition to digital broadcasting.
The object of the Bill is to expressly state that the responsibilities, functions and powers of the Regulator are subject to the approval of Cabinet or the Minister responsible for the Office of the Regulator, in accordance with Article 32 of the Constitution.
One of the responsibilities of the Regulator is to monitor and enforce compliance by licensees with the conditions of their licenses and to amend or revoke licences for broadcasting of television and radio stations.
Last month, television stations threatened to close down over the high cost of the monthly tariff for local TV Stations join the nation's new digital T.V. network in an exhaustive negotiation in which the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, personally intervened.
Under the law, T.V stations must adopt the Digital TV platform, or face the regulator shutting down their stations.
The digital tariff was negotiated and reduced from $35,759 to $18,000 a month and its effective as from December 2019, is on a trial basis for six months after which the rate will be reviewed.
The decision followed a meeting involving Tuilaepa, T.V. operators, Digital T.V. owner, Fa’amausili Andrew Ah Liki, the Office of the Regulator and other heads of Government Ministries.