Ousted FBC chief executive dismisses allegations of exorbitant pay

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Former FBC chief executive officer Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU/FILE

Ousted Fijian Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) CEO Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says allegations he received exorbitant pay were “incorrect”.

In a five-page statement, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum outlined his side of the story from the moment he had met the board and delivered a “staggering” 12,000 documents relating to senior management contracts, audit reports and financial statements from 2006 onwards.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was delivered to the board on January 23, 2023.

He also stated that between the announcement of the new FBC board and his subsequent termination, they had met on two occasions on January 27 and 30.

During the first meeting, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said he and other senior management met with the new board for over seven hours to “comprehensively educate the board about the unique hybrid public/commercial operations, responsibilities and background of the national broadcaster”.

“During the meeting, I and the senior management team gave a presentation to board members and I highlighted the dangers of obtaining, believing and acting upon false information about the FBC that had been consistently peddled about the national broadcaster via social media over more than a decade,” he said.

“This in turn had affected our operations and staff morale for a long time.

“I reminded the board about its fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the FBC and that all information handed over to the board was legally and commercially sensitive.

“The board was also reminded of its fiduciary duties toward the company and that it should not act on any third party pressure, political or personal interest to take any action, including the removal of any staff member simply because of their surnames or association with any political figure.

“The board was explained in great detail about the structure of the FBC as a public service/commercial national broadcaster that is the only media organisation in Fiji that has the unique capability of reaching every Fijian citizen via Fiji’s only AM transmitter that is extremely expensive to operate.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said he had painstakingly explained in detail how important the transmission and broadcast of numerous non-commercial services was for the sole benefit of the Fijian people, especially those who relied entirely on the PSB service in times of natural disasters.

“I also furnished the board with various other documents relating to the importance of the detailed PSB contract between the national broadcaster and the Fijian government that included Cabinet reports and memorandums and presentations to the parliamentary economic committee among other papers.”

According to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, all information presented to the new FBC board spelt out why the PSB contract for non-commercial work between the Government and FBC was important for all Fijians and the nature of the detailed non-commercial work that FBC carried out as part of its contractual obligations.

He also said FBC was the only broadcaster that had the technology and subsequent reach to disseminate these non-commercial programs to every corner of Fiji and explained to the board how much the service cost the FBC and how much the Fijian Government paid the national broadcaster in return.

“It is unfortunate that the board and in particular the chairperson has disregarded the information, material and documentation provided to him with all facts and figures relating to FBC.

“This is evident from the many remarks that he has made regarding FBC and in particular, the comments he has made about the terms of my employment contract and benefits which were essentially untrue.”

Questions were sent to FBC board chairman Ajay Amrit yesterday, however, a response could not be obtained by the time this edition went to press.