Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Fiji are the first of the seven countries to receive the screen content through the PacificAus TV initiative delivered by Free TV Australia.
Papua New Guinea's National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and EMTV, and Fiji's Mai TV will be able to broadcast the programs from the last week of May.
Over the coming months, PacificAus TV will roll out to other Pacific nations including Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Nauru.
Free TV Australia, the industry body that represents Australia’s commercial free-to-air TV networks including Nine Entertainment Co, Seven West Media, and Network Ten, is also in the process of finalising agreements for live matches and review shows from Australian sporting codes including netball, cricket, football, rugby league, and AFL.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said the expansion of free Australian TV program options complements a range of initiatives to enhance Australia’s engagement in the Pacific.
Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Alex Hawke said the initiative is a “terrific demonstration of shared cultural ties and links between Australia and the Pacific.”
Bridget Fair, the CEO of Free TV Australia welcomed the opportunity to beam into Pacific islands more quality television programs that Australian audiences know and love.
PacificAus TV content will be supplied via distribution portal or satellite to Pacific Partner broadcasters, who will then incorporate the content into local broadcast services to meet their own audience and programming requirements.
Kora Nou, Managing Director, National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in PNG is excited about the new initiative and expecting more exchanges in the near future.
China’s Increasing Propaganda OutreachThe initiative, aligning with the Federal government’s “Pacific Step Up” strategy, aims to increase Australian voices, and to promote the declining press freedom across the Pacific Island region, countering China’s aggressive media offerings to the Pacific nations.
Over the last decade, Beijing has been expanding its soft power in the Pacific region through growing foreign aid, trade, and diplomatic ties, as well as propaganda outreach.
China Central Television (CCTV) is available in English and Mandarin in the Pacific Islands through streaming, satellite, and rebroadcast on local cable or rebroadcast by local stations.
China Radio International (CRI ) broadcasts on shortwave and has English language FM stations across Asia and in Pacific nations including Vanuatu, Tonga, and Samoa. It also has a suite of online and digital services including the China Plus mobile app.
The Chinese government’s primary news agency, Xinhua, which has grown to over 180 foreign bureaus, provides coverage of every region on the world including Pacific Island countries.
Premier of the Solomons’ largest island Malaita, Daniel Suidani, revealed to the program that he was offered $1 million (AU$178,300) to accept the change of allegiance from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China.