Poor quality of live coverage comes under scrutiny

The poor quality of the live coverage of the 2019 XVI Pacific Games opening ceremony on Sunday was due to bad weather and minor technical difficulties. 

That was the explanation given by the Pacific Games Office Chief Executive Officer, Falefata Hele Matatia, in response to concerns about the quality of the live broadcast on Sunday night. 

“And like any international live coverage mishaps are bound to strike, but it is how we deal with it when it does," he said. "So far we have managed to fix the issues from Sunday and I can assure the closing ceremony will be much better.”

The Games host broadcaster is Singapore-based Melanesian Media Group (M.M.G.) with TV3 as the holder of Samoa's exclusive broadcasting rights along with eight other overseas broadcasters.

Falefata noted that it is a milestone that Samoa was able to pull off the live broadcasting of the games and ceremonies internationally on high definition. 

“It has never happened before in the history of the Pacific Games and that is something to be proud of, and yes there was technical difficulties on the first day, but we have ironed out all those issues," he said. “We managed to get a channel on Sky TV, and eight other countries, Samoa did that."

Asked about the poor quality (sometimes blurry) live coverage, Falefata said they are working with the local TV stations to iron out the issues.. 

“And again we are ironing out all technical issues together with the TV3 and the M.M.G.” 

However, he did not go into details except to acknowledge the technical issues, while acknowledging the involvement of other channels such as the Olympic Channel and Digicel's PlayGo.

In relation to Savai'i residents who are unable to watch the Games in Savai’i, Falefata said TV3 is working to improve its infrastructure.

“I also urge members of the public to utilize the Digicel's PlayGo on their mobile and online,” he said. 

The Samoa Observer contacted the TV3 Manager, Roa Pesamino for comments. According to the TV3 manager, they are just a vessel to carry the live feed. 

“Everything is managed and operated by the M.M.G., we are just a vessel to carry the live feed and that includes the equipment, technical support; the commentators, everything is with M.M.G.,” she told this newspaper.

When the Samoa Observer contacted the M.M.G. Managing Director, Richard Broadbridge, he referred the queries to the Pacific Games office. Told that they have the broadcasting contract, not the Pacific Games Office, Mr. Broadbridge hung up.

Falefata told this newspaper they are managing everything, including the contract with the M.M.G. as well as concerns and responses to the media. 

“As stated before this is the first time the Games are broadcasted live internationally and we want to manage everything, including any responses, to the medial locally and internationally. 

“At the end of the day, Samoa is the host country and that our office wants to monitor everything, ” said Falefata. 

The Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Solamalemalo Sio, said he received calls over the poor coverage of the opening ceremony. 

“And I met with the host broadcaster, M.M.G. and the Pacific Games Committee as a result of poor coverage with the local feed and the explanation was that the equipment was wet. The sun is out now and there is no excuse not to have good quality coverage. 

“This is the first time; there is global live coverage for the Pacific Games including the Olympic channels and while overseas coverage is quite good, yet the local coverage is not up to par and they have been instructed to fix it. 

“The contract is close to $1 million tala and there are clauses in the contract the M.M.G. must meet,” said the Minister. 

The Pacific Games Office in March this year noted that M.M.G.’s proposal was found to be the most technically compliant and competitive bid. 

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