Twenty two broadcasters from the Pacific region, including three broadcasters from Samoa will now enjoy the variety of content from New Zealand, with the launch of the Pasifika T.V.
The milestone was celebrated in Samoa on Thursday night at the Residence of the New Zealand High Commissioner, Letava Rd at Vailima.
The celebration was extra special with the presence of the mastermind of the project, Tony O’Brien who is also the Director of Pacific Cooperation Broadcasting Ltd.
Mr. O’Brien told the Weekend Observer that the initiative was born from a conversation he had with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in N.Z., Murray McCully.
“We were talking about ways to reach out to the Pacific and he asked me to think of something,” said O’Brien. “And then I said to him, why not use television and radio? Isn’t that the best way to sort of showcase our content? And then we started from there and we started working on this project.
“We started working on it about 12 months ago. And tonight, we are celebrating the fact that we have got 22 broadcasters from the 11 countries in the Pacific as our broadcast partners.
“I am so happy that we are able to be this all together and to interact with the local broadcasters from the Pacific.”
Mr. O’Brien admitted that like anything new and different in life, there were hurdles and challenges along the way, while putting the initiative into action.
“We had to start from scratch,” said O’Brien. “And the major challenge was getting all the content.
“But it was sort of quite easy to get all the broadcasters. We have all the broadcasters on board working together for us.”
He said he is overwhelmed with the result of the project and looking forward to working with the local broadcasters.
“I am really privileged to be doing this and enjoy working on this project and to negotiate with the broadcasters from all across the Pacific,” he said. “I’ve had all my life in the corporate, making money. And now it feels so great to be giving something back, and that’s what I enjoy the most about all this.
“This whole initiative is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and of course the Minister is Minister McCully. And as a result of his support, we were able to put this altogether and I have a great debt of gratitude to him.”
The Associate Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, spoke on behalf of the government of Samoa to thank Tony O’Brien and the government of New Zealand for the great initiative.
“On behalf of the Government of Samoa, I acknowledge with gratitude another great initiative by the Government of N.Z. through the N.Z. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade,” said Leala.
“I thank the Govt. of N.Z. for making this overdue initiative possible, and acknowledge its coming into fruition. As we gather here this evening, the World's discussions are based on three major issues - Climate change, terrorism and religious militancy, and who is going to be the next President of U.S.A.
“Media Broadcasting of course plays a huge role in these major issues. Media Broadcasting is the most influential way of distributing information whether on specific ideologies, or cultural and educational related.
“Given the role N.Z. plays in the Pacific region, not to mention the large number of islanders residing in N.Z., Pasifika T.V. will definitely have a positive impact on our people’s perceptions and understanding of pressing issues that may affect our daily lives.
“This positive initiative comes at a time, when all sorts of information are available, and can be accessible, whether through traditional or social media. This is why the timing of Pasifika media is essentially important, to push through our region, some of the core values of human development, including cultural and educational materials and to reflect professional journalism.”
Moreover, Leala highlighted the major role media plays in our communities in addressing the several issues we face in our society.
“It is my belief that cultural growth and change in human behavior is not possible without media intervention,” he said.
“Content is always a challenge to most broadcasters and striking a balance on what is relevant and what is popular can be difficult. However, with Pasifika T.V. now offering additional material 'for free’ around educational themes, documentaries, sports and entertainment, our local T.V. stations now have a good range of materials to select from for their T.V. programmes.”
Furthermore, Leala thanked Pasifika T.V. for offering the opportunity to train our local technicians as part of this initiative.
“This is an important area not only to enhance technical capacities but improve the level of professional journalism,” said Leala.
“Training and capacity building is vital to strengthen local human resource capacity in the broadcasting sector.”
Leala believes that this is an exciting time for Samoa, particularly in the area of media broadcasting and I.C.T.
He said this in reference to the Samoa National Broadband Highway which is now in place.
“Works on the Tui Samoa Submarine Cable has commenced with the launching date set for August 2017,” said Leala.
“Samoa is now prepared to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting hopefully late next year. The aim of all these initiatives taken by the Government of Samoa is to increase capacity and accessibility and at the same time, lower costs to consumers.
“Changes as we know, come with challenges - and we certainly look forward to working in partnership with Pasifika T.V. and the Government of N.Z., with regards to future positive development in the field of broadcasting.”