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Lord Tu'ivakano keynote address at the Pacific Media Partnership Conference

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21. December, 2011. Prime Minister of Tonga, Lord Tu'ivakano keynote address at the Pacific Media Partnership Confrence Opening at Fa'onelua Conventional Center, Wednesday 21 December, 2011.

Mrs Faiesea Matafeo, Chairperson of Pacific Media Partnership and Managing Director, Samoa Quality Broadcasting Corporation,
Dr. Guillio Massaso Paunga, Director, TBC Board & Fellow Oceania Institute for Education, USP,
Mr. Sharad Sadhu, Director Technology, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union,
Rev. Dr. ‘Ahio, Royal Chaplain & President of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga,
Distinguished guests, representatives of the media organizations from 14 Pacific countries,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Malo e Lelei,

Welcome to the Kingdom of Tonga, better known as the Friendly Islands. It is my pleasure to be with you this morning on a very special and significant occasion.

The media in the Pacific region plays a crucial role in carrying the message of social development, and progress to the peoples of the Pacific countries.

In this context, the initiative taken up by the Pacific Media Partnership to focus on the media in the Pacific and its development is quite well placed and welcome.

This conference today is a significant milestone in the efforts of the Partnership to modernize the media industry in the region and to enhance media services to the public.

The theme of the conference "STRENGTHENING THE VOICE OF THE PACIFIC" is quite appropriate as all stakeholders make concerted efforts in helping the Pacific to speak out.

Broadcasters in the Pacific countries have a responsibility to provide the audiences of the region with information and knowledge in an effort to improve people's lives. In this regard, the broadcast media in the region are called upon to play a pivotal role in eliminating illiteracy, malnutrition, gender inequality, poverty and improvement in health. It is a principal stakeholder in social development and in building economic systems in our countries.

The broadcasters should actively help the people of the Pacific to convene among themselves, know each other's challenges and opportunities that are thrown up on the road to development. They should be empowered to carry out their mandate for providing information, education and entertainment through their services to audiences in the region. The resources at the command of the Pacific broadcasters need to be suitably strengthened enabling them to carry out their functions. The Governments in the Pacific countries may consider providing assistance to their broadcasters to help them in capacity building, strengthening of their infrastructure and services, as also in effective restoration and upgrading their facilities and human resource.

Climate change is a threat to the human kind, more so in the Pacific Island countries, being quite vulnerable to the effects of this phenomenon. These countries are still seeking viable solutions to this global problem.

Broadcasters should actively help in spreading awareness on climate change issues, create understanding about its adverse effects and possible solutions for their mitigation.

We are currently in the cyclone season in the Pacific. We have heard from a number of analyses that there may be fewer cyclones. However, their strength is expected to be extraordinary high. The role of the broadcast media, especially radio - due to its immediacy, wider coverage and impact - come at a crucial time. This service cannot be guaranteed throughout the cyclone period unless the broadcasting infrastructure is functional and equipped with the state-of-the-art technologies. This may be the challenge at present for most of the broadcasting services in the Pacific. With the advancement of technologies, we must endeavour ‘not to miss the boat.'

The cooperation of strong and weak nations and the rich and financially challenged broadcasting entities is important to avoid and offset any major adverse effect.

It is acknowledged that early migration to digital broadcasting technology and services is a highly desirable goal. However, it is quite clear that the broadcasting industry cannot undertake this paradigm shift solely under its own steam. International organizations should come forward and assist the Pacific broadcasters to implement effective transition to digital broadcasting, provide training opportunities and capacity building of their human resource. In this time of rapid evolution of broadcasting services, small island nations in the Pacific may not be in a position to financially afford and cope with the experience and skills needed. In this important development we need to be guided and aided by our "brothers" in Asia, Oceania and Europe.

Pacific broadcasters themselves should develop and promote broadcasting industry standards in content creation, technology and management practices pertinent to the Pacific countries. The Kingdom of Tonga has already taken the first steps on this road to digital implementation. The Government of Tonga is grateful for the assistance of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the ABU for assisting us in drawing Tonga's national roadmap for migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting.

I note this has been the second year in a row that this conference is being hosted by the Tonga Broadcasting Commission. As the Minister responsible for Information and Communications and where TBC comes under in its communication roles, we welcome and embrace this opportunity of meeting with the Pacific media personalities, most of whom are gracing this event here today.

Distinguished participants, I wish you all the best for your deliberations and look forward to receiving any recommendations that you might be able to put together at this conference.

I now declare this 2nd Pacific Media Partnership conference open.

Malo ‘aupito.

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Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa 2011.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 November 2012 21:16 )  

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