Broadcasting Corporation Targeted
For the sixth time in recent months, the island’s national broadcaster has once more come under severe criticism in the House. Terry Coe had introduced a motion calling on Cabinet to replace the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Corporation of Niue. The board, according to Coe, had failed to deliver the service that they and the management had promised.
While the Corporation might be delivering some 12 channels of television he said most of it was rubbish with endless repeats of so called reality television. Mr Coe said the two base channels of TV Niue and the Tourism Channel are carrying the same programme on Sundays. He called on whoever is in control of BCN to allow one free-to-air [FTA] channel and for that channel to carry some local content.
The member for Alofi Tokelau Va’aiga Tukuitoga echoed the call for a FTA channel and added that it is the duty of the public service broadcaster to inform the people of what is happening on their island. She said that in her experience people have stopped watching television because they can no longer afford to pay to decode the scrambled signal.
Mrs Tukuitoga repeated her claim that an expat who used inappropriate language on Niue Radio is still being allowed to work. She told colleagues in the House that when she heard the palagi swear word, she fronted up to the BCN and demanded that the lady be removed. The lady in question is still co-hosting the Morning Show but only when she is present here on the island.
In support of BCN Minister Billy Talagi said that the reality of present day multi-channel television is that you take whatever is delivered on that channel; the staff of TV Niue has no control of the content or the timing. It is inevitable that there will be repeats he said. This situation is not peculiar to Niue but it happens all over the region. He said BCN has improved the technical quality of the transmission of television signals by using the latest digital technology. If a particular programme is not to your liking said the Minister there is a little red button that you can push.
Common roll member Stanley Kalauni supported the call for a FTA channel. He reminded the House that BCN had promised to add more local content but there is not much evidence of that happening. Mr Kalauni said it would be interesting to see after twelve months of operation if BCN is paying its way without help from other sources.
Another Common roll member Crossley Tatui told the Assembly that when you pay for a service, the service provider is expected to deliver what you pay for. Judging by the complaints, this is not happening. He said that one of the main purposes of BCN is to educate, a purpose which has largely been ignored by the new money-generating BCN.
Minister Pokotoa Sipeli’s contribution to the debate could not be heard over the radio.
In summing up his motion Terry Coe said that his view is that the Board is not doing its duty and should be replaced. The Board and the Management have allowed untrained and inexperienced people to front the national broadcasting service. Cabinet ministers should be allowed to tell the people what they are doing but it appears that the only the Premier is allowed to do that. Mr Coe ended by pointing out to members that the evidence of incompetency is right there in the debating chambers where members were forced to share a microphone so they can be heard.
The motion calling for the replacement of the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Corporation of Niue was defeated.