‘Digital in Oceania: evaluations and perspectives’

Wednesday 13th February at 9.30am, the OPT presented ‘Oceania Encounters’ with a debate during which digital and television professionals had an opportunity to express themselves.

Benjamin Teihotu, Director of the OPT, started this conference by presenting the outlines of the OPT group and its subsidiaries, Mana, Tikiphone and TNS: 55 traditional telephone lines subscriptions, 227,600 Vini chips, 37,500 ADSL connections, 25,000 television decoders, in short, increasing needs on the scale of an area the size of Europe. Apart from the recent shifting of uses (an increase in nomadism) and the convergence of technology, network consumption in Polynesia has been growing in popularity since the opening of cable. Benjamin Teihotu has also announced the group’s policy in favour of digital creation: a partner FIFO since its creation, the OPT supports other projects like the production of a Polynesian documentary, ‘Tupaia’s Endeavour’: it retraces the life of the Polynesian sailor Tupaia, the pilot of James Cook’s boat, the Endeavour. It will be released at the end of 2013 and will, we hope, be selected at the next FIFO.

The participants invited to the Digital Encounters as well as the public were able to benefit by asking many questions about the OPT, its ways and projects (networks, outputs, invoicing, etc.).

To take it even further, Karl Tefaatau, Director of the Agency for Digital Development, even suggested to the director of the OPT the idea of the creation of an investment fund to support Polynesian innovation, as according to him, ‘the OPT should go beyond its role of ‘transporter.’ Watch this space!

Television stations in question

The second part of the conference was focused on regional television stations and their problems with content. Carol Hirschfeld, Director of programmes for the Maori TV channel, reiterated the role of this ‘little broadcaster’ in the New Zealand audiovisual landscape, its constraints and requirements. ‘Our role is to value and promote the Maori language whilst offering a high quality service.’ This service, financed largely by the state, came to fruition in 2004 with its audience reaching 1.7 million spectators in 2012. A respectable figure for a country of about 4.4 million inhabitants.  ‘We broadcast in two languages, 50% of our programmes are in Maori. In New Zealand, 15% of the population is of Maori origin, but only 5% speak it fluently. We are almost astonished to be so successful; I think that it is partly due to the fact that our English programme schedule is also interesting.’ To adhere to new trends and reach a wider audience, the channel is currently preparing a website transmitting its content, a strategy to reach a younger audience and encourage them to watch the channel.

Gonzague de La Bourdonnaye, in charge of new digital media for Nouvelle-Calédonie 1ère, pointed out that the channel was ‘pioneering for local development,’ present for a long time on the Internet and on social networks. ‘The digital divide in New Caledonia is gradually being reduced thanks to the arrival of 3G.In the bush, young people do not hesitate to travel 15 km to have internet connection and use social networks. We benefit from this enthusiasm to reach them.’

Mateata Maamaatuaiahutapu, Director of TNTV programmes, spoke to reiterate that TNTV produced 45% of local programmes, including 4.5 hours in Tahitian, raising a contradiction which should open another debate: ‘if we ask the people, 99% of them confirm that they desire more programmes in Tahitian, and when we broadcast them, these are the least watched.’