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Faipule want church services recorded in village, not at KVZK

Rep. Vailiuama Steve Leasiolagi  [photo by AF]
Say KVZK should stop doing ‘favors’ for the gov’t, if it can’t do it for the people too

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Rep. Vailuama Steve Leasiolagi told KVZK-TV deputy director, Tautinei Misioka Olo during a hearing before the House Government Operations committee last Friday, that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga should not be involved in making decisions about how the government’s television station conducts their daily business. That is up to the Legislature and the Director to decide.

Olo appeared on behalf of KVZK-TV director, Tuimavave Tauapa’i Laupola to answer questions from lawmakers as to why the recording of church service program is no longer being conducted in the villages but instead each church has to record their program at the KVZK-TV studio in Utulei.

Rep. Gafatasi Afalava, at the insistence of his constituents from Aoloau, raised the issue during a House Session two weeks ago and asked for a hearing, requesting the director appear before the committee to explain the changes.

Vailiuama told Olo that he supports faipule objections to recording at KVZK rather than in the villages.

Olo told the committee that the only church services that the governor instructed their office to conduct in the villages were the church services sponsored by the government, such as the church service of the Toa o Samoa, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Thanksgiving, and any other church service that has to do with the government.

“For church services, the governor has instructed our office that all these programs should be conducted at our office studio in Utulei — not only to protect our equipment from damage if we take it out, but also to avoid our staff from working after hours and overtime and not getting that pay,” Olo said.

Olo told the committee that there are reasons why these changes were made — one of them being that all of the equipment is more than 50 years old and the staff has to be very careful when they take equipment out to the villages to record church service programs. To keep the equipment in good running order, it’s better to keep them all inside the studio.

“If a church service program was recorded but we later found out that the quality was not good because the equipment we’re using is old, there is no time for us to inform the church in such a short notice and ask them for their program to be recorded again,” said Olo, who stated that recording these church service programs at the studio is more convenient that conducting them out in villages.

She also told the committee that their staff is not getting paid when they go out to record these programs, and that’s another reason why the governor advised their director to stop recording church service programs in villages.

Olo further told the committee that leaders of several churches had already been informed about these changes and they are well aware of it.

“As you all know, KVZK-TV was established over 50 years ago, so all equipment inside our studio is old. We have to be very careful when taking our equipment out to record these programs, and our vehicles that are used to transport the equipment back and forth are not in good condition. So, the best thing to protect our equipment from damage and to avoid our staff from working overtime without getting paid is to bring all the church service programs to record at our studio in Utulei”, Olo concluded.

Gafatasi, who raised this issue, did not mince words when telling Olo that her statement did not satisfy him.

“I don’t accept your excuse that church programs are being recorded in the studio because it is more convenient as far as equipment transfer. Why is it so hard to transfer your equipment when recording church service programs, but when it comes to the Toa o Samoa prayer services every month, you’re able to transfer your equipment to wherever village the service is being held,” Gafatasi said.

“I respect the governor and the changes he made, but this is my own opinion and I can’t hold back my opinion about this issue because from what I have just heard from your statement, the government is only thinking about themselves and wanting to make things easier for them, but not for the people,” Gafatasi said.

“If this is what the governor wants, recording only government programs in villages but the churches and the villages have to use your small, hot and crowded space studio to record their church service program, I believe that it’s about time for the KVZK-TV to be privatized. If the government is not willing to make things easier for the community, so let a private company own our only television station and run it, hoping that it (a private company) will hear our cry and respond accordingly,” Gafatasi said.

Rep. Veevalu Meauta L. Mageo asked the witness what are they going to do with the old equipment they have — will they continue to rely on the old equipment and continue to use it for another 50 years or are there any plans to buy new equipment because the world’s technology is moving forward and our local television station needs to upgrade? Olo quickly responded and changed her answers, saying that all the cameras and other equipment used to record programs is all new equipment, only some equipment inside the studio is old.

“ … but you just said that all of your equipment is more than 50 years old and that’s one of the reasons why you plan to keep all the church service programs recording at your studio in Utulei, to protect your equipment from damage. Our television station needs to upgrade and should be using new technology to help out with your programs,” Veevalu said to the witness.

In response, Olo said that KVZK-TV is working together with ASTCA with some of the new technology such as the live streaming, so that people living abroad can watch some of the events happening on our island live, such at the Flag Day fautasi race.

Vice Speaker, Rep. Fetu Fetui Jr told the witness that he does not agree with the changes the governor has made, saying that Toa o Samoa prayer service is not a government event — it’s a Marist Brothers’ monthly event for the Toa o Samoa and their families.

“If your staff can go out to the villages and record the government’s program, why can’t you do the same to the church service programs in villages,” Fetu said. “Something is not right over here. If you’re allowing the government program to be recorded in the villages, you must do the same to the church service programs. If not, I instruct you to tell your director to stop doing favors for the government if he can’t do the same for the people.”

Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Fu’e Allen, who is the chairman of the committee made a motion that the committee introduce a resolution asking the governor to consider a way to let church service programs be conducted in the villages.