Bid for One Free-to-air TV Channel Defeated
Report from the Recent Assembly meeting.
A motion introduced by the Member for Alofi Tokelau Hon Va’aiga Tukuitoga for one channel of television to be free-to-view was defeated by a single vote but not before some spirited debate from both sides of the divide.
One surprise contribution to the debate came from long serving veteran politician Jack Willie Lipitoa. It is a rare occasion in the House when Mr Lipitoa is not supportive of the government but on this occasion he spoke in support of the motion. He advised the Assembly that he no longer watch television but he does listen to the radio. While he used to watch the single channel and enjoyed the local content he now relies entirely on the radio for any information. Speaking in support of the motion Mr Lipitoa said that there is value in allowing the people on the island to see themselves and to see their achievements and to be able to do so without having to pay.
Former broadcaster and Member for Toi Hon Dion Taufitu said that the broadcasting services of the island is now being run as a business and as such it must stand on its own without recourse to other funding. But then the member added more to what is already murky and confusing situation when he told the Assembly that the Broadcasting Corporation and its Board of Directors was created under legislation. That legislation also sets out clearly the role of BCN as a public service broadcaster. However with its new role as a commercial broadcaster, spear headed by Wayne Harris-Daw, it is unclear if the legislation is still relevant which raises the question of the validity of the Board.
Member for Hakupu Mr Michael Jackson, who is also a member of the Board of BCN said that there is not a single non-Niuean on the Board; it is completely local. Mr Harris-Daw’s role is merely to advise the Board. That comment was met with a muffled response from the opposition.
When the motion was finally put, 5 members voted for and 6 voted against. Nine members were absent.
Note from the Niue Editor: Even if a motion is passed by the Assembly, the Cabinet is not obliged to take any action. This is based on the convention that the government is run by the Cabinet and not the Assembly. Be that as it may, motions brought before the House provide an avenue for debate on current issues.