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Confirmation hearing held for new director of KVZK-TV

One of the two Representatives from Manu’a #1 Vesi Talalelei Fautanu Jr
Local media coverage called ‘very biased’ and televised Fono sessions discussed

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Manu’a #1 Representative Vesi Talalelei Fautanu Jr has down played the work by the local media covering Fono sessions, by saying that “the media coverage of the Fono sessions and hearings is very biased,” because they just “chose and pick” whatever they want to report.

Vesi’s statement was made during the confirmation hearing for Tialuga Vince Iuli as the new Director of the KVZK-TV before the House Government Operation Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi.

Vesi’s statement was cut short by another Manu’a #1 Representative and Vice Speaker of the House, Fetu Fetui Jr, who interrupted and instructed Vesi to leave the “media’s job alone, don’t touch it.”

After acknowledging the governor’s appointment of Tialuga as the new Director of KVZK-TV, Vesi posed a challenge to Tialuga and told him that he’s giving him something just to think about, whether it is the right time for the Fono to have sessions and hearings broadcast live on television and radio, so the public will know exactly what's being discussed.

Vesi said the doesn’t recall when was the last time voters were able to hear and see their representative on live television during a Fono session and discussions, however, he wanted to bring this thought up to the acting director for something to think about it.

“I don’t care what’s the cost of bringing your crews and their camera to record our sessions and discussions but this is something that I was thinking about for a long time,” said Vesi, adding that he wanted to let their constituency know that not only are they doing a good job for the people, but everyday they start their discussion with a prayer.

Vesi also brought up the issue of allowing the government-owned television to be operated and run by a private company. His said the reason why he wanted to bring this issue up was because their usual coverage is also one-sided.

“You never scrutinize the Fono nor the government with your news coverage, and that’s why I wanted to pose this question to you to think about, whether it is time for our government to privatize our local television so that we can see two-sided coverage from our local television,” Vesi said, adding that “the media’s coverage of the Fono sessions and hearings is very biased.”

Fetui Jr interrupted and told Vesi that the hearing is about the confirmation of the governor’s appointment of Tialuga as director of the KVZK-TV.

“Your comment can change another representative’s decision,” Fetui Jr told Vesi. “Be careful of what we bring into this chamber. Leave the newspaper’s job to those who run and operate it. Don’t touch it.”

Fofo Representative Andra Samoa echoed Vesi’s statement and told Tialuga to take into his consideration the statement by the representative from Manu’a because the elderly mothers and fathers from each constituency who stay home want to hear what is being discussed by Senators and Representatives during their sessions and hearings.

Samoa told Tialuga that she wouldappreciate any decision to televise Fono hearings and sessions in the future.

Tualauta Representative Larry Sanitoa supported the thoughts to televise Fono discussions, saying that the subject is very easy if Fono leaders agree to bring in crews from KVZK-TV to televise Fono’s sessions and hearings.

When asked about the agreement between KVZK-TV and other networks such as NBC; CBS; BBS and ABC, Tialuga responded by saying that KVZK-TV is still honoring the agreement with these networks. According to Tialuga, these agreements are renewed annually to make sure people of Tutuila and Manu’a will get the chance to watch different programs including news coverage about what is happening around the world.

It was after Tialuga mentioned something about news coverage around world that Vesi raised his hand again and requested another chance from the chair to elaborate on his previous comments about media coverage.

When given the chance to address the issue, Vesi changed his statement and told Tialuga that he was not referring to our local media when he spoke about “media coverage” in the first place.

“I was referring to the one sided reporting by CNN,” Vesi said, adding that he spoke to the former director Tauapa’i Laupola a few years back for a chance to discontinue our agreement with CNN and bring in FOX news where their news coverage is more accurate. Vesi further stated that he believes that the one sided reporting by CNN mislead members of the community about what is happening in the United States and around the world.

Tialuga said that the agreement with CNN has been terminated due to the fact that KVZK-TV paid them $700,000 every year but the programs they provided are not worth the cost. He further stated that the agreement with the other three networks he mentioned previously is still ongoing because they offer their service free of charge.

The House is expected to vote on the Tialuga nomination later this week, while the Senate passed Tialuga’s appointment with a vote of 16-0 yesterday after a hearing.