The first day of the parliamentary select committee hearing to look into the operations of BCN began today. The hearing held at the Golf and sports this morning was not well attended, in fact, there was no public interest at the hearing aside from the media team.
The committee chair is Ricky Makani, MP from Tamakautoga with vice-chair John Opo Tiakia representative of Lakepa, Hon. Va’aiga Tukuitoga of Alofi North and Richie Mautama from Hakupu were present.
Two Committee members Hon. Dion Paki Taufitu from Toi and Common Roll member Richard Hipa were not at today’s hearing.
Also at the hearing was the Speaker of the Fono Ekepule Hon. Hima Takelesi sitting with Deputy Clerk Melissa Douglas and the Director of Cabinet and Parliamentary services Christine Ioane.
President of the Ekalesia Niue and BCN Board member Reverend Nuka Tauevihi was also present.
As requested by the Committee, the BCN Board chairperson Ida Talagi-Hekesi and BCN General Manager Trevor Tiakia presented on the governance and operational side of the BCN.
Ida Hekesi summarised her presentation on governance, the strategic direction of BCN by saying that the national broadcaster cannot grow without revenue or financial resources.
Earlier this year, Cabinet approved that up to 50% of donor-funded projects marketing and promotions budgets to be allocated to BCN but to date, there have been no resources allocated to BCN.
Trevor Tiakia’s presentation focused on operation matters of the organisation. Radio Sunshine runs 18 hours seven days a week and is accessible to 97per cent of the island.
BCN is still working on addressing the issue with the blind spot at Tamakautoga.
In 2016 BCN introduced 12 channels of digital HD TV which was running well until the fire of May 2019. Running TV Niue draws on 80 percent of the organisation’s resources.
Trevor Tiakia says that going forward, it is difficult to see BCN as being fully self-sufficient because of our market size so there is still going to be reliance on government recurrent budget support to carry some of the operational costs such as personnel.
Committee members’ responses to the presentations were not as intimidating as is expected at these types of parliamentary committee hearings.
Some of the more interesting comments were remarks about the religious and spiritual part of BCN’s Radio program.
Deputy Chair John Tiakia asked if BCN would consider recording and televising or broadcasting live some of the church services on Sunday for those who are unable to attend church.
Rev. Nuka Tauevihi responded saying that the church will not agree to this because this will impact the number of people attending church.
He said that people should be going to church and not staying home to watch TV on Sundays.
Aside from the media team and despite the invitation to the members of the public, there were no members of the public at this hearing.
The Committee will proceed with the hearing on day two tomorrow for BCN.
Telecom Niue Ltd (TNL) will be the next government-owned entity to appear before this parliamentary committee.