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SIBC battles to stay on air
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24 December 2017
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The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation headquarters at Rove.

Power cut hits hard on national broadcaster

By LYNNISSHA RUNA

The national broadcaster, SIBC, is taking drastic and desperate measures to stay on air.

This comes after Solomon Power’s recent disconnection of SIBC’s power supply due to a $65,000 outstanding bill.

 The national broadcaster, which has the furthest reach and relied on by the rural populace, currently runs on generators, which are expensive to maintain.

Chief Executive Officer Ashley Wickham told the Sunday Star they are taking every possible measure available to keep the station on air.

“We’ve already shutdown the medium wave (MW) transmitter because of the situation,” Wickham said.

“Only the Short Wave (SW) transmitter is still being maintained because it reaches the whole country,” he added.

“Our streamed overnight service listened to internationally had to be switched off at 11pm so the generators could rest.”

Wickham said their poor financial situation came about as a result of the government’s critical cash flow problem.

The government is SIBC’s main source of revenue.

Wickham said they will review the situation in the New Year.

“But our outlook is not so clear.

“We have not been told when Parliament is likely to sit to look at the budget.

 “If our finances don't improve, we will reduce the transmission hours of the shortwave transmitter so that they are only heard in the early mornings and evenings to close down at 11pm.

“Then we start a process of lay-off of staff.”

The situation is also affecting SIBC’s proposed television service.

Wickham said earlier, due to the government’s cash flow problems, they cancelled a contract payment of $2.5 million which SIBC were to use to set up the early part of the TV service.

“We have submissions for capitalisation of the TV Project and for equipment upgrades for radio equipment, studios, administration, provincial studios, provincial FM stations etc.

“These total $23 million. 

“Since the government changed we have not heard how the new administration views our SIBC prospects,” Wickham stated.

He said SIBC had also complained to the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Finance that Solomon Power did not seem to know the essential services act and did not seem to know or care about the cash-flow situation everyone reliant on government is affected by. 

Solomon Power earlier insisted their action applies to every customer that has outstanding bills with them.

 

 

 

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