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TBC’s chair Dr Tu’i Uata … “news content not popular”. Image: Kaniva News

By Kalino Latu, editor of Kaniva News

The Tonga Broadcasting Commission was restructured to save it from being closed down, says the commission’s chair, Dr Tu’i Uata.

Dr Uata told Kaniva News the TBC faced being shut down in two months because it was running at a loss despite having a strong “technical” management to make sure it functioned financially.

Dr Uata blamed the situation on the way the TBC news was being created and broadcast.

In Tongan he said: “Ko e palopalema ko e content oku ‘ikai manakoa aia makatuunga ai a e mole.”

This can be translated into English as: “The problem is that the content is not popular, that’s why it ran at a loss.”

He said he had launched a reform at TBC which was based on the idea that everything in the organisation had to be “people centred” and focused on customers.


News chiefs moved
As Kaniva News reported earlier, two senior and long serving journalists at TBC were moved out of the newsroom and moved into the sales and marketing department.

Laumanu Petelo, the editor, and Viola Ulakai, the news manager, were moved to a new department within the sales section known as NGO.

Chief engineer Solomone Finau has since been appointed acting general manager and Vilisoni Tu’iniua was taking care of the newsroom.

Dr Uata said he wanted to put a stop to the “loss” so that the organisation could be profitable.

“According to the public enterprise law which we are under, if the organisation is not financially viable or it cannot be able to perform like you (Kaniva News), there is a ground for dismissal,” Dr Uata said.

“TBC cash flow will shut down in two months, and all will go home.”

Dr Uata said this was his priority at this stage.

“That’s the reality,” he said.

Stopping losses
He said he was concerned at TBC operating at loss.

Dr Uata was asked about Petelō and Ulakai’s expertise in marketing as they had been in the newsroom for most of their services.

He replied: “Koe expertise ke mau ha silini ikai koe mole he tukuhau kakai oku uesia.” “The expertise should bring in revenue and not cause losses to the people’s tax money.”

The reform comes after Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva told Kaniva News in an interview that the TBC had run at a loss for many years because the majority of sponsors and listeners had moved and were using private broadcasters.

In February, the government, which is TBC’s main sponsor, injected TP$200,000 to the broadcaster to support its operations.