New initiative brings more NZ television to Pacific screens
New Zealand TV sports, drama and news is starting to be relayed through public broadcasters in the Pacific as part of a New Zealand government initiative.
New Zealand television sports, drama and news is starting to be relayed through public broadcasters in the Pacific as part of a New Zealand government initiative.
The broadcasters will be able to draw down content from a so-called warehouse of publicly funded New Zealand programmes.
New Zealand's Pacific economic ambassador, Shane Jones, launched the initiative last week in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
SHANE JONES: It's an attempt on our part to improve the offerings, to provide both information and entertainment material, and knowledge about New Zealand to further broaden and deepen our footprint amongst our Pacific neighbours.
SALLY ROUND: Well I understand that New Zealand is contributing, what, NZ$400,000 to this?
SJ: Well the government used to give money to Television New Zealand. That money has now been redirected to meeting the costs associated with providing this content, and of course the asset is on the Pacific broadcasters themselves to draw down the content as their schedule allows. But the various telly stations up in Port Moresby were very enthusiastic; the broadcasting bureaucrats were very enthusiastic; not surprisingly, the young people are keen as mustard on viewing sport -- there is some rugby, there is some soccer and a variety of other sports. There are ongoing challenges working with both the staff and training the next generation of Pacific broadcasters. There's a lot of enthusiasm to have some of our senior broadcasting semi-retired folk maybe, or current professionals to go up there and work with them, and at the moment we do have a number of Pacific media graduates or students coming down to New Zealand - they work in various media outlets and take that knowledge back up home.
SR: So a bit of a two-pronged approach here? A bit of soft diplomacy and some training as well for the local people in the Pacific islands.
SJ: Look it's a part of the quiver of diplomatic arrows that we have in the Pacific. There's a demand for it; we've got the material. I've been amazed by the enthusiasm from a whole range of people to actually make it work.
SR: You say some news and current affairs is going in there.
SJ: Yes. Parliament TV at various times will be available, New Zealand current affairs shows, New Zealand news. The other area that people have expressed an interest in receiving the material has been those people catering for tourists. I think this New Zealand content is going to increase the offerings which will be valuable as part of their broadcasting sector, but also good for visitors. But the key point is that we're looking to have a broad coverage, at this stage not stretching into Micronesia, but certainly Melanesia in amongst our Polynesian neighbours.
SR: And given the demise of Australian broadcasting in the region, is this a bit of an effort to fill the gap there?
SJ: Well the observation has been loudly and colourfully made by professional broadcasters in the Pacific which I think partly explains their enthusiasm for the content.
SR: Which of the programmes do you think is going to be the most popular. Is it going to be the rugby?
SJ: The reality is a lot of the young people, like in Papua New Guinea after we had spoken, they were very focussed on sport, etc. But they like the notion that there's hunting shows, fishing shows. There'll be an option for the public broadcasters to fill up their schedule with a variety of content: Kiwi drama, kiwi kids entertainment programmes, sports, current affairs, snippets of parliament, Māori TV. So there's a variety that should give an accurate description of New Zealand insights, lifestyle choices, as is shown through our publicly-funded broadcasting material.
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