By Edward Tavanavanua
The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation celebrated 60 years of service in the country last Saturday.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama spoke at the event, applauding the national service broadcaster on its many recent successes since its “radical intervention” in 2008.
“In radio, FBC was struggling. The company hadn’t turned a profit in ten years, the building and infrastructure were falling apart and the staff were demoralised,” he said.
“With Government’s support, FBC has found a way to operate as a public broadcaster in a commercial world. They have managed to strike a balance between information, education and entertainment that is commendable and unique. FBC is now the most watched network in the country and the appreciation for the content they are providing is widespread.”
Bainimarama attributed much of the FBC’s continued success to its prudent financial management.
He added how amendments to “purchase exclusive rights for coverage of important designated events” in the Television Decree have allowed for many positive changes for television broadcasting and viewership in Fiji. This means all national television broadcasters can cover major events simultaneously.
Bainimarama highlighted the significance this may have for networks, like FBC, covering the general elections in September.
“People will be able to tune in to any free-to-air station and see the results as they come out on the night of elections,” he said.
“You will quite literally be able to see democracy in action.”
Bainimarama said a new development to switch television from analogue to digital is also underway.
“Plans have been finalised for the creation of a National Digital Television Platform that will greatly improve the picture and sound quality of television programs and expand the coverage of all broadcast television channels,” he said.
“The new platform will initially extend the coverage of all broadcast channels to 94 per cent of the population, marking a drastic improvement over the current levels of coverage.”
“All that is needed is a low cost set top box, which will give you greater control over programming, including the ability to choose what channels are available in your households if you have children. “
FBC started its operations in 1952 with two radio stations: Radio Fiji One and Radio Fiji Two. Since their inception, FBC has added another four radio stations along with their television network, FBC TV.