In an article published in the Pacific Community (SPC) online news, Palau government public radio chief boasts of the government media’s ability to compete with the private media.
“We are moving quickly and disseminating information faster. This is enabling us to compete with other private broadcasters,” Lorraine Franz, Chief-Division of Media and Information Services in the Ministry of State’s Domestic Affairs, is quoted in the article saying of the public media’s capacity.
In the interview, Ms. Franz said that are “able to live stream weekly President’s address and press conferences…and provide regular updates during the recent Typhoon Surigae that battered our islands in April of 2021.”
Palau government’s media received a grant worth EUR 100,000 and a media van to enhance its radio station, ECO Paradise FM’s capacity to cover Palau’s climate change adaption and resilience building.
The grant fund is part of the European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance Plus -Scaling up Pacific Adaptation project implemented by Pacific Community (SPC) with SPREP and USP.
“Of course, they can easily compete with us, they get free equipment, free access, and get paid by our taxes,” expressed Salvador Tellames, a local private radio operator who has been in business for decades and also broadcasts programs on television and on Facebook live.
“I’ve to pay PNCC for access, hire people and pay them to do all the same things the public radio does, at my own expense. While they get free access, donation of equipment under the name of Palau government and get paid with my tax dollars,” added Tellames. “It is not a competition. They have the monopoly.”
Palau Wave Radio has been participating in the PACMAS/ABC Pacific Prepared, a disaster preparedness grant, creating and airing community disaster preparedness programs.
TMC TV, another local private TV broadcaster with an online presence, said that government media has an unfair advantage over private media.
The owner, Joel Toribiong, said it is difficult to compete with the government, citing President Press Conferences airing. “We pay PNCC for access to connect and broadcast the press conference. We don’t get paid for that, it is all our expenses. The government gets free access from PNCC, and the government staff, paid for by our taxes, film and air the press conference. How can we compete with that?”
“Public media has a place in the media landscape providing timely and factual government information to all, including to the independent media for dissemination. It should not compete with independent media. Competition means they see us as rivals that you need to get rid off,” stated Bernadette Carreon, Coordinator, Pacific Freedom Forum, a Pacific media watchdog.