Funding is holding up a potential Pacific TV channel, said two media practitioners behind the move at the PIMA forum at AUT last Friday.
Spasifik magazine publisher Innes Logan and Tagata Pasifika executive producer Stephen Stehlin told the crowd that their move to establish a Pacific channel was moving forward, but was still yet to gain momentum.
Stehlin said they had a business plan and strategy and had set up a board, which had been in talks with TVNZ and TV3.
Logan said TV3 had been positive about the possibility of providing a channel. He said a Pacific channel is a priority for TV Works, the company that owns TV3.
However, Stehlin and Logan both said one of the biggest hurdles was funding.
They are currently seeking funds for a Pacific broadcasting iniative in the same way there is a Maori broadcasting initiative that has helped fund Maori TV.
Manager of TVNZ Maori programming Paora Maxwell said the network was in negotiation with various political parties interested in the channel.
“And I’m afraid that might sound like a feeble answer, but that’s obviously where it’s at,” said Maxwell.
He said the project was on hold until after the election.
“It will be interesting to see if we have a new government and where its standing on Maori and Pacific broadcasting is.”
When the discussion was opened to the floor, a member of the audience, Will ‘Ilolahia, stood up and announced his own plan for an internet-based channel which will stream New Zealand shows such as Tagata Pasifika worldwide.
‘Ilolahia said the digital channel, named Kiwi TV, would be available for streaming on November 1.
His reason for setting up the programme was because “there are a lot of PIs around the world that are dying to watch Kiwi films and that kind of stuff”.
“We’re acknowledging now that the internet is probably a wider medium than television broadcast,” he said.
“Last year at the PIMA conference TVNZ came through and said it was going to set up a channel, and then we heard it again. Still, we’re going to set up a channel.
“I’m the kind of guy that needs action,” he said.
Both Logan and Stehlin said ‘Ilolahia’s announcement would not affect their plans for the Pacific channel.
“Certainly, the more activity, the better. I think it will create more programme makers, more self expression and more of who we are on this side of the world,” said Stehlin.
Logan said his experience in setting up Spasifik magazine had shown him that competition was healthy.
Logan said he could not say when the channel would be established, as previous timeframes had been influenced by the upcoming elections.
The content was still to be confirmed, but it would include a mix of educational and entertainment programmes.
During question time about the prospect of a new channel, Joris de Bres from the Human Rights Comission highlighted his concern that “we would hate to see this falter by spending too much on competing and too little on co-operating”.
But Logan believed the best way iwa for one television company, such as TV Works, to take the project of a televised Pacific channel without collaboration with other media companies.
“I think realistically somebody needs to take it and run with it.
“It (collaboration) is like starting business partnerships, invariably it sounds good in principal, but they’re always fighting over who’s doing what.”
Of Will ‘Ilolahia’s announcement, he said: “He’s got a long track record with the media and good luck to him.
“But I know that to have the reach to be as effective as he would have it, you need a lot of resources and whether he’s got that backing behind it, who knows.
“I know with our resources there’s some funding required to set it up, but I know with TV3, TV Works, there’s some expertise that it’s a real goer.”
Stehlin said on top of the funding issue, there had been concern there were not enough Pacific resources to make enough content, which he expected to get from the Pacific and locally.
However, he said the key was to go ahead with the plan.
“We grab the opportunity and we run with it, and we get excited by it. We we will get the capacity,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure it’s a Pacific channel. We’ve got to make sure we’re not watching ourselves at 11 o’clock at night or 7 o’clock in the morning. It’s going to be us on prime time.”