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ANALYSIS: Ex-Executives Could Have Resigned

The controversy regarding the removal of two Fiji Television Limited executives highlights the relationship between the board of directors and management. This has become a high-profile case because of Fiji
08 Jan 2015 10:32
ANALYSIS: Ex-Executives Could Have  Resigned
Former Fiji TV CEO Tevita Gonelevu and former Fiji TV head of content and production Tanya Waqanika.

The controversy regarding the removal of two Fiji Television Limited executives highlights the relationship between the board of directors and management.

This has become a high-profile case because of Fiji Television’s involvement in the much-publicised stand-off between World Rugby and the Government. It led to the suspension of the live feed from the Dubai Sevens, infuriating thousands of rugby fans last month.

Former Fiji Television CEO Tevita Gonelevu and ex-head of content and production Tanya Waqanika are not the first management executives to lose their jobs in the corporate world. Others do not get the kind of publicity the pair are getting because they do not attract the same kind of public interest.

Yesterday’s press conference in Suva by the pair was designed to keep the public interest alive and highlight their on-going battle against the Attorney-General and Minister for Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and the Fijian Holdings Chief Executive Officer Nouzab Fareed and board chairman Iowane Naiveli.

Amid the accusations made at the conference, one thing that stands out was the issue of relationship between them and FHL board.

It is no secret that the board had been concerned with the financial performance of Fiji Television. It led to some cost-cutting measures which included the chopping of some highly popular programmes like the Hindi entertainment programme, Star Plus, and Sky movies.

The move immediately attracted a public backlash and Fiji Television was forced to restore these programmes. Incidentally, Mr Gonelevu, an accountant by profession and lawyer Ms Waqanika, do not have any previous media work experience outside their Fiji TV roles.

The programme blunder was followed by the rugby sevens fiasco which the two executives claimed they were not responsible for.

The role of the Board of Directors is to provide guidance and strategic oversight to management. Management’s responsibility is to conduct the day-to-day operations of the Company’s business and to achieve targets that are consistent with the board’s focus and vision.

It is interesting to note that the biggest shareholder of Fijian Holdings is Government through the iTaukei Affairs Board (10,760,977 shares), iTaukei Trust Fund Board (10,000,000 shares) and the iTauklei Land Trust Board (859,666 shares). It should be obvious that Government has a vested interest in the performance of Fijian Holdings and its subsidiaries. FHL has been performing well over the years and the shareholders have been enjoying their dividends.

Mr Gonelevu and Ms Waqanika claimed that the position they took in the Sevens TV saga was in the commercial interest of Fiji Television.

But the board thought otherwise and decided they must go. It no doubt seriously took commercial considerations into account. In yesterday’s press conference, the issue of a settlement was mentioned. What happens from here onwards on a settlement is between them and the board.

At the end of the day, the board has the final say because it will later face scrutiny by the shareholders.

The former executives felt strongly about certain matters in their discussion with the Government and World Rugby.

They took a stand and discussed it with the board. The board did not back their position.

The former executives had two choices at the height of the controversy.

They could have resigned when they realised they were fighting a losing battle. Instead, they chose to stay and face the inevitable.

The choices that management executives take in situations like this demonstrate the stark reality in the commercial world.

Executives either stick with something they believe in or they quit and look for other opportunities that satisfy their conscience or their beliefs and values.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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