TV Chief questions fairness over digital platform

The Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Broadcasting Corporation Limited (S.B.C.L.), Galumalemana Faiesea Matafeo, has questioned the fairness of the legislation governing the company overseeing the digital television platform in Samoa.

Galumalemana raised concerns  after its TV1 channel was removed from the platform several weeks ago. 

The channel returned this week. 

But Galumalemana told the Samoa Observer the company in charge of the nation's new digital television platform, the Samoa Digital Communications Limited (S.D.C.L.), had TV1 removed after its executives raised questions about the process of switching from analogue broadcasting. 

“It was [a] reaction to a letter we sent to the [Prime Minister] in which we sought assistance from the Government for protection of our businesses from the inevitable change in control of the industry brought about by the digital switch," she said. “We also mentioned a concern with digital platform breakdowns."

Galumalemana said S.D.C.L. reacted by giving back the $18,000 the company had paid for the monthly digital television tariff.

They were also removed from the service. 

Galumalemana claimed the Chairman of the S.D.C.L., Fa’amausili Andrew Ah Liki, gave an option to TV1.

“He wanted me to promise him that I leave politics out and then he may reconsider," she said. 

“We cannot make such a promise because the digital switch is a government initiative and because we were not getting answers from the Regulator, we had no choice but seek assistance from the Government, after all we are bound by law to  get on to the digital platform or lose our licenses."

Furthermore, Galumalemana argued that the company in charge of the platform, the S.D.C.L., was unburdened by terms and conditions or checks on its authority. 

“There are no terms and conditions given to S.D.C.L. for removing or refusing a TV channel from the digital platform," she said. 

“We are now subjected to personal ad-hoc decisions and prejudices and much depends on what he has for breakfast! This is exactly what we [feared] right from the start". 

Contacted for a comment, Fa’amausili said TV1 was reconnected on Wednesday. .

“The problem was every small little issue they run to the Prime Minister," said Faamausili, "but everything is settled now."

“The bottom line is, we don’t do politics and we don’t run to the media. But in the meantime, everything is settled now."

Questioned about the digital platform's recent breakdowns, the Chairman said TV1 had lost its sound for only a couple of hours before technicians rectified the situation.

The Regulator, Leafaoali’i Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti, said TV1 did not lodge an official complaint with their office. 

“I did not receive any complaints from TV1 regarding the same [matters] but what I gathered from the [correspondence] were their own personal differences [with the policy]," she said, 

“As a result I wrote to both parties to find a resolution to their issues but to ensure compliance to the Cabinet Directive and their legal obligation for the people of Samoa.  As a result TV1's service has since been restored."

The Regulator did not respond to questions about whether the S.D.C.L.'s authority was subject to terms and conditions. 



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