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By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch

After Australia’s misguided attempts at handing over $17.1 of Australian-made television content to the Pacific region last month with programmes such as Neighbours and Border Control, questions have been asked about a $10 million New Zealand grant made in 2018.

At the 2018 Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting in Nauru, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced that New Zealand would spend $10 million on a Pasifika channel for the region over the next three years.

He said at the time that the plan would improve both the production of more Pacific content, including news and current affairs.

However, little was known of what became of Pasifika TV and today a MFAT spokesperson cleared the air.

Pasifika TV was established to make New Zealand television content available to Pacific broadcasters,” she told Pacific Media Watch.

“In 2018, Pasifika TV moved from providing eight hours of content a day to become a standalone 24 hr TV channel, as announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Winston Peters.

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“This provided Pacific broadcasters the choice to recast it in its entirety alongside their own channels or select content to rebroadcast, reducing the operational demands on small broadcasters,” she explained.

As well as that developmental and skills training for staff in the Pacific was progressing at a steady pace.

“In addition, Pacific Cooperation Broadcasting Limited (PCBL) is providing training and development programmes for Pacific broadcasting staff and content creators to increase operational resilience and skills, including journalism, editing and broadcasting,” the spokesperson said.

“PCBL holds an annual regional conference for chief executives of associated broadcasters and has upgraded broadcasters’ decoders to enable high definition quality broadcasts and future online streaming.”

She also made clear what happened to the NZ Institute of Pacific Research (NZIPR) which was disestablished after an independent review in 2018 found it was not achieving its objectives.

“It has been replaced by ministry-commissioned policy-relevant research, focused on enduring or emerging issues facing the Pacific which align with the Ministry’s priorities.

“The research is published on the Pacific Data Hub, a digital repository of Pacific research knowledge hosted by the South Pacific Community (SPC).

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