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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 21, 1999 - PACNEWS)---A regional communication meeting in Suva has been told that a feasibility study needs to be conducted to determine the economic worth of public broadcasting to Pacific island countries.

The recommendation was highlighted in a paper presented by the Chief Executive of the Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association (PIBA), Jese Sikivou.

Sikivou said such a study has never been conducted in the region.

He said the study could examine the contribution the services provided by national broadcasters to a nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

Sikivou also said funding was a major constraint for national radio stations.

"PIBA suggests that Governments and broadcasters, with PIBA, need to begin to genuinely negotiate solutions to the funding problems public broadcasters face.

"Broadcasters have responsibilities too, and should undertake to improve their professional accountability and management performances," he said.

The PIBA boss said Government should agree to provide an adequate level of core funding to broadcasters. This funding should be guaranteed at an agreed level for a reasonable period.

He cited an example where funding for a national broadcaster dropped from hundreds of thousands of dollars one year to zero within five years.

Sikivou said no business can plan its operation with this sort of cash flow.

He moved an initiative at the regional gathering to set up a Pacific-wide radio service. This, he said, would be uplinked to a satellite and re-broadcast regionally and possibly to Southeast Asia, Canada and the United States.

Sikivou said PIBA is ready to assist the South Pacific Forum in pursuing initiatives to improve the status of public broadcasters.

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