Vanuatu PM tells broadcaster board to resign over financial woes, porn screening

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Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation ... facing big challenges on and off screen. Image: VBTC

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has reportedly asked the chairman of the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation board, Johnety Jerety, general manager Fred Vurobaravu and all the board members to resign.

Outstanding issues include the financial situation of VBTC and the showing of pornographic images on television.

Prime Minister Salwai, who is responsible for media, reportedly advised the public relations officer to the PM, Hilaire Bule, to relay the decision to the chairman of the VBTC board last Thursday.

According to Bule, the chairman of the VBTC board received the PM’s request for their resignation on Friday.

The VBTC is faced with a lot of challenges. Last month, the power utility UNELCO disconnected electricity supply to the company, causing a complete blackout to the services provided by the VBTC following an outstanding debt with UNELCO.

A few weeks after an agreement of understanding between VBTC and UNELCO, a pornographic video was televised on TBV to Euro Cup fans who were waiting to watch a match that night.

-Partners-

Frustrated viewers of TBV expressed their disappointment over the pornographic material on social media and demanded that disciplinary measures be taken against whoever was involved in airing the sexually explicit video.

Discipline promised
The VBTC board apologised for what happened and promised to discipline the person held responsible.

General manager Fred Vurobaravu did not comment on the resignation appeal but he confirmed his contract had been extended until 2018 on two specific mandates which included “extension of TV network to the islands which is currently underway and secondly to prepare a succession plan for the post of the GM”.

He also admitted to the Vanuatu Daily Post that VBTC was facing many challenges and the board and management of VBTC were doing their best.

Vurobaravu confirmed that VBTC had met the government’s 100-day plan for ensuring the Radio Vanuatu services coverage reached all the islands of Vanuatu.

However, he said the Prime Minister’s Office, which VBTC is under, failed to answer to the development needs of VBTC as an essential service which included providing funding of the redundancy and restructuring plan.

It also included secure funding towards an FM network which would reduce the utility costs of the company.

The Daily Post contacted Jennifer Kausei, acting chair of the board, for comment and she responded, saying: “We were not made aware of the call for our resignation until it was reported on Capitol FM 107 over the weekend”.

‘Letter not received’
She added: “So far we have not received a letter from the Prime Minister, so we are treating this as speculation.

“Until we receive a formal letter from the PM, we may respond on this matter.”

Kausei also said that under the VBTC Act, the Prime Minister had the authority to appoint and terminate the general manager, chairman and members of the board of VBTC.

Chairman of the board Johnety Jerety did not comment as he is currently abroad.

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