The chairman of the National Pacific Radio Trust is confident that the Pacific Media Network which operates Niu FM, Radio 531pi, and Pacific Radio News is here to stay.
Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira says the outlook "can only get better from now on", despite poor attendance at Trust meetings held with Pacific communities earlier this month. Trust members and management met with members of the Pacific community in Dunedin, Wellington, Tokoroa and Auckland earlier this month.
While Pereira acknowledged that the turn out wasn’t great, he said the feedback from the community was invaluable.
Concerns raised at the annual general meeting from the community, ranged from news content on the community language progammes to the future ownership of the network.
Pereira said that while people recognised it’s important to know what is happening in the Pacific, they also pushed for more local content about Pacific communities living in New Zealand.
“It’s important for the community to have their say, we try to cater to everyone’s taste, however we are never going to satisfy everyone”.
The network receives three million dollars a year to run the stations. While there has been no increase in funding allocated to NPRT in this year's government budget, Pereira said funding is confirmed for the next three years, with no decrease.
Still, even with the funding from the government, the station needs to raise $1.5 million in advertising revenue in order to keep operating.
Pereira says the market out there is very competitive: “We are going up against mainstream fully commercial stations.”
The future ownership of the network was also raised at the AGM.
Pereira said people want to see the station in community hands, owned and operated by the people. The feedback was that “our community don’t want to rely on government funding forever”.
The network has undergone major restructuring over the last few years, and Pereira said it has had a new leadership team since August 2009.
He said NPRT has stabilised its financial position and according to its Statement of Intent, it forecasts a surplus in the next three years.
The trust is fully aware of the phenomenon of new media with the introduction of social networking sites like, Twitter, Blog sites, Face Book.
He said: “I accept it’s a new ball game and we have to accept the new digital age is upon us, that’s the way it is going.”
The veteran broadcaster said the introduction of such sites has given our young Pacific people a different medium to express their views and opinions: “I welcome this as long as it’s done with integrity and dignity without offending people.”
Pereria said the objective of the Trust members and management is to address the issues raised by the community, and to implement it in the best way they can with the resources they have.
“I have absolute trust in the staff, their talents and aspirations for the network, and our future. We are a work in progress,” he said.
Gladys Hartson is a Graduate Diploma in Journalism student at AUT University and is working with Pacific Media Watch.