Pasifika On Air: A world first

June 2021 conference for PasifikaTV broadcasters

Pasifika On Air (POA) is a funding programme for Pacific broadcasters to create and tell their own stories. Funded by Pacific Cooperation Broadcasting Limited (PCBL), it is the first initiative of its kind, empowering Pasifika broadcasters to share local stories on a global stage.

Over the past two years, PCBL has laid the groundwork for Pasifika On Air through a series of training programmes and the provision of broadcasting equipment.

The training focused on journalism skills, broadcasting, and production to give POA participants the skills to craft a story they wanted to tell. While the provision of laptops, cameras, and field production kits gave them the tools to do so.

Equipment handover to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation. Pictured: FBC CEO Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and NZHC Jonathan Curr

Prior to the closure of borders, the annual PCBL media exchange programme saw groups of broadcasters from a range of Pacific nations travel to New Zealand to work in the industry, sharing and learning from one another.

Virtual equipment training by PasifikaTV. Pictured: Karl Schodt and Tui McKendrick

PCBL endeavours to support the aspirations of the Pacific broadcasters to strengthen local production.  And so, all these efforts have been singularly pointed towards the development of a foundation needed for POA.

In addition to support provided by PCBL, New Zealand production house, Sunpix, was brought on as a commissioner to help produce the shows. Sunpix has a wealth of Pasifika-focused experience, most notably as producers of Tagata Pasifika. PCBL CEO Natasha Meleisea says they were selected for the role as they are a “reputable Pasifika production house skilled in crafting factual and informative stories with a Pasifika lens.”

With the impact of Covid deeply felt across the Pacific, Pasifika On Air has been used by participants to detail the resilience and determination of their communities to unprecedented challenges.

Meleisea says one of the key aims of Pasifika On Air was to “support the Pacific broadcasters in documenting a critical piece of history for their respective nations. Documenting these stories of resilience can have a positive impact on future generations of Pacific nations.”

Pasifika On Air provided the opportunity for broadcasters to put everything they had learned and received into action. Beyond the impact of the stories themselves, the process has just as much value, if not more.

Behind the scenes photo of Tonga Broadcasting Corporation producing their POA series

“The learnings, knowledge and experience(s) gained throughout the production journey cannot be overstated. The ability to enable Pacific broadcasters to have an opportunity to master their craft and enable continuous improvement is a driver for the project,” says Meleisea.

As technology enables international players to easily access smaller markets “it is critical that a local voice is maintained,” says Meleisea, “story sovereignty and preservation of language, culture, and heritage is crucial.”

With the programmes soon to air, Meleisea and the team at PCBL are already looking towards the next iteration of Pasifika On Air.

“There is value in the purpose of POA, and PCBL would like to see more quality stories told with a Pasifika Lens – more often.”

 

Programmes from Pasifika On Air started broadcasting on PasifikaTV on the 20th of June with EMTV’s documentary series Overcoming Change, detailing the economic impact of and response to Covid 19.