Sunday, February 01, 2009

New TV and radio, February launch

Written by Alan Ah Mu

Samoa Observer

APIA- A television station and radio station are to go on air early February. This follows of test transmissions in recent weeks. Both stations are owned by STAR (Samoa Television and Radio) Network.
The new TV station, Star Television, is a free to air service.The new radio, Fetu FM, is to transmit on 93.7 and 104.1 frequencies.
Both services boast of an 80 percent population coverage. Executive Director, broadcaster and journalist Apulu Lance Polu, says it has been a lot of work and a lifetime goal to get the TV and Radio up and running.
“I’ve always wanted to have and operate my own TV and Radio, having worked for the government media during a much controlled environment which I left in 1993 to set up my own media company,” Apulu says.
“Then I waited when the Government announced plans to sell what was SBC,” he says.“However, my bid was rejected very early in the process by the Task Force for the sale headed by Treasury and I knew I had to get around it the long way.”The license was approved last November. Says Apulu, “We are a free to air station and we will be providing local programmes down the line when we have trained staff and we do hope to provide a better product for the public and business community.”Apulu owns STAR Network in partnership with George Pitt of the Cook Islands.


“Getting well trained and experienced staff for journalism and media in Samoa is hard to come by,” he says.
“It was the main vision behind the Journalism and Media Studies Programme now taught at the National University of Samoa. “I initiated the idea as President of JAWS and was fully supported by the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi way back in 1999.
“It is a challenge for the course to produce well trained Samoans to work in the local media industry which has grown so rapidly over the last 10 years.“But we aim to employ young and dedicated staff, retrain them by honing their skills and talents so they can work all three media - writing, on air presentation, camera work, editing etc. so basically all will be multi skilled.”

Limited Market

“Some people have made reference to the ‘small Samoan market.’“But I know of the Pacific media thriving in markets as small as 10,000 people. “But we are fortunate that others have made the mistakes in the media in Samoa that we hope to avoid. “I think that the key in these small markets is utilizing the available technology and not having unnecessary overheads. “And we will be offering competitive prices that are much lower than the existing advertising rates because of that.”

The owners

“George Pitt and I have known each other for a very long time. “He owns the Pitt Media Group in the Cook Islands. “His mother is Samoan and was born in Apia. “We’ve been together on many international media conferences and we were on the first ever delegation of Pacific Journalists and media practitioners to the Peoples Republic of China in 2003 that I led as PINA President. “Pitt’s interest in the whole project is to revive the Christian programming that used to be on TBN which has a big following locally. “We are committed to assigning air time for Christian programming.”Apulu Lance Polu is a broadcaster and journalist who studied as a UNESCO Broadcasting Fellow in Samoa, New Zealand and later Japan. He is a former Head of News and Programmes for the Samoa Broadcasting Services and presented the first TV Local News when TV Samoa was founded in 1993 in which he pushed for a more Samoan image for local TV presenters. He left at the end of that year to establish Talamua Media, a multi-media company that owns the Online News website and other publications. He is the longest serving President of the Journalists Association of Samoa – JAWS from 1989-2003 under which the Journalism and Media Studies programme was launched at the National University of Samoa.He is a former President of PINA (Pacific Islands News Association) and currently represents the Pacific in the Executive Board of the Commonwealth Journalists Association - CJA. His lasting contribution to broadcasting is in the series of Samoan short stories he created in 1982, Palolomua and the follow up Leulupani which is named after a small farm where he was