1710 NBC moves to assist PNGEC in election coverage for 2017

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has welcomed a proposal offered by the National Broadcasting Corporation, for PNGEC to utilize the new NBC’s revamped network to assist with coverage of the 2017 elections. Mr. Gamato, however, said that PNGEC is currently weighing its options against associated costs from communication stakeholders NBC and Digicel Group Limited.

He said that this is in the light of severe funding woes faced by the Commission to disseminate vital election awareness messages and information to the public.

Technical teams from both NBC and Digicel have met separately with the Electoral Commissioner and his senior management team to sell their proposals.

The NBC technical team led by the Acting Deputy Managing Director Kora Nou met with Mr. Gamato and his senior management last Friday (October 14, 2016) last week with their proposal for 2017 elections coverage as alternative to proposals offered by private media.

The meeting was attended by a representative from the Department of Information and Communication representing Paulias Koni, the Secretary.

“PNGEC will weigh our options against cost to ensure we utilize the most appropriate and effective mediums and technologies that can reach the disadvantaged voting population that could not be reached with election awareness messages and voter information,” Mr. Gamato said.

The Electoral Commissioner acknowledged the fact that PNGEC did not have the luxury of funding to use the various media outlets and civil society organizations like it did in 2012 to deliver election awareness to the voting population.

“Our funding situation has forced us (PNGEC) to re-strategize and utilize mediums apart from traditional methods that are cost-effective and can be able to reach majority of our people, particularly the disadvantaged population,” he said.

In the meantime, NBC is offering to provide PNGEC with new and really innovative election coverage of the 2017 elections unlike before using three platforms – radio, television and online (website and facebook) using the internet – within PNG.

To inform the globally audience on PNG elections in 2017, NBC plans to use its existing partnerships with international media giants like CNN, BBC, SBS, ABC Australia and popular Australian TV channels Channel 9, Channel 7, Channel 10 and Northern Territory TV.

In terms of television coverage of the 2017 elections, the new NBC assured PNGEC that it now has the capacity to provide that service as it is shaping up to be very agile and responsive with its experienced journalists and camera crew who will be roving live all around the country during election time.

NBC will be using state of the art technology with multi-screen display of its journalists who will be on standby for live crossovers to break news during the 2017 elections.

NBC boasts as the leading multiple platform organization that reaches 70% of PNG’s population daily and is targeting 100% coverage in the 2017 elections with the support of the Japanese and Australian governments to fund the restoration of 10 transmitters nationwide.

Unlike in previous elections coverage, the new NBC has done extensive work as state broadcaster to assist PNGEC in election coverage.

The other advantage NBC has is that it does simulcast of its daily 6pm news on both national television and national radio nationwide. NBC national news is also relayed by Wantok Radio Light nationwide and the new Click TV station while Digicel’s TV Wan News is negotiating a business deal to also relay NBC national news live on its network.

In terms of radio coverage, NBC is carrying out maintenance work on its transmitters and is confident of 100% nationwide coverage as it will be broadcasting the 2017 elections on three bands or frequencies, namely, the Frequency Modulation (FM) band for urban centers and Medium Wave and the Short Wave bands for rural areas in PNG.

NBC has developed a comprehensive broadcast timeline which hinges on PNGEC’s election preparations timeline to cover the 2017 elections from the pre-election period to polling and counting, declaration of winning candidates and post-election events such as formation of a new government.

Digicel, on the other hand, is offering PNGEC a number of its platforms using its network such as the mobile phone short text service or SMS blast which PNGEC has already used and will be utilizing again during voter enrolment in the coming three months as well as during the polling period.

PNGEC is looking at a proposal by Digicel to link up Electoral Commission official website to its online news service - PNG Loop News - which is accessed by most mobile phone users nationwide.

The Commission is also looking at using Digicel’s closed user group (CUG) network for mobile communication during roll update, polling and counting periods.

Media Consultant

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