If you have not read our recent coverage regarding the BCN, you might want to read it here.
WE SAY. . .
For the critics of the Broadcasting Corporation of Niue the fiasco in the relay of the proceedings of the Niue Assembly is ample evidence of incompetency. At times the debate could not be heard on the national radio either because of excessive humming or because the signal was completely lost or that the microphones were in the wrong place. For the 6th time, probably in as many months, the Corporation has once more become the subject of debate in the Assembly.
How did BCN find itself in this position?
How did an organisation that was at one time leading the islands in the region in being innovative, boasting the latest technology in the emerging digital world, to one where its equipment has become obsolete?
BCN’s radio service was the first in the region to be equipped with a computerised audio system and a computer assisted on-air presentation system. Its television studio had a computer based editing system, the first such system in the region. Of the five or six full-time staff, at least four were multi-skilled with ability to write, edit and present the news – both on radio and television. All were capable of using a video camera. The early morning breakfast show and the lunch-time show were the responsibility of the full-time staff. Part time staff were employed in the evenings. Staff members were permitted to take with them for the weekend a camera in case of a breaking news. More often than not, events of a national significance were covered live on radio and a recorded version on television the same evening.
Why has BCN descended to become something of a whipping boy for politicians? At the top of the list would be staffing, more specifically a lack of properly trained staff. At one time the Corporation, small as it was, could boast no less that 5 university graduates all with media training. Second is the failure to update its equipment. Third is the inability to recognise the challenges of the Internet and social media. Fourth is the failure to call for proper help when that help was needed. And finally, the inability to recognise the difference between the roles of a public service broadcaster and a commercial broadcaster and how each is to be funded. Simple really.
Can BCN dig itself out of this hole? It’s going to take a lot more than the daily dosage of the Morning Show’s horoscope to fix this one. Yes it can be done, but the folks responsible for BCN have got to accept first that they have a problem and seek some help. Unless they do that, the complaints will continue. Would a change of Board members make a difference? Probably not but it might help if one of the appointees has some electronic media knowledge. What can BCN do to restore the public’s faith? Clean up the radio for a start – it really is a dog’s breakfast.
Put more resource into the breakfast session and provide more help for government agencies who use the radio to disseminate information. Give the announcers a crash course on the techniques of on-air presentation. Half the time you can’t hear what they are saying. The music rivals the worst crap that can be heard on urban radio. Finally, without being too obvious, make one TV channel FTA. The people have a right to know what is happening on the island and what their government is doing – without having to fork out more for that privilege.
At last count BCN has 7 fulltime staff members with only one trained journalist. We rest our case.
Postscript: It is 6:00am on Friday morning. . . and there is total silence from the national radio station. Silent protest perhaps? Naah – probably no more than someone forgot to tell someone that they can’t make it to their shift. Happens. It shouldn’t but it does. Or it could be just a technical hitch. Happens. It shouldn’t but it does. Hold it folks – the national radio has just come alive…with the news in Cook Islands Maori. And now here’s Boney M with By the Rivers of Babylon – oh the irony of it all: “How can we sing the Lord’s Song in a strange land”.