Fijians now have a fifth free-to-air television station—Hope Channel. As of February 22, the eastern and central regions of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, including the capital, Suva, have been receiving the UHF broadcast.
People are watching it in the villages, in the country schools . . . These are non-Adventists and they’re saying they’re being blessed.
“We are grateful to our God for His hand in securing the approval from Government for the re-broadcast of the Hope Channel free-to-air in Fiji,” said Joe Talemaitoga, media ministries director for the Fiji Mission. “People are watching it in the villages, in the country schools,” he said. “These are non-Adventists and they’re saying they’re being blessed.”
Pastor Luke Narabe (left) and Pastor Joe Talemaitoga (right) with some of the TV hardware.
The coming of Hope Channel adds to the growing reach of Adventist media in the island nation. Already Hope FM broadcasts to the whole island of Viti Levu and is the preferred Christian radio station for many Fijians.
And for the past 18 months, FIJI TV has been carrying the It Is Written Oceania (IIWO) program—Australian-produced episodes, but with introductory and final comments by local evangelist Pastor Tiko Kabu. According to Mr Talemaitoga, about 10 viewers respond each week to offers made on the program; a number of these viewers have joined Adventist churches around Fiji.
It Is Written Oceania costs $FJ800 (about $A500) to air each week. The expense nearly sunk the broadcast earlier this year, with Church leaders informing FIJI TV that the programs would discontinue from March 31. But determination from other church members to save IIWO prompted the “fastest backflip ever,” according to Mr Talemaitoga. He told FIJI TV within 48 hours that the broadcast was back on. The weekly episodes have continued uninterrupted.
The broadcast fee is now raised on a week-to-week basis, thanks to the support of private donors. Mr Talemaitoga is looking for ongoing support from church members from around the South Pacific Division.
The next challenge is to give Hope Channel in Fiji a local flavour. Mr Talemaitoga is already investigating the technology needed to interrupt the satellite feed and insert Fijian-produced content. He’s identified local programming as well as Hindi-language content that will better target the 38 per cent of the population who are of Indian descent.
“We need to go west,” Mr Talemaitoga said, referring to Fiji’s Western Division, including the town of Nadi, which does not currently receive Hope Channel. “On the mountain ridge overlooking the new Fulton college (Nadi) campus, is our transmission tower hosting HOPE FM’s aerials. Data links that are able to carry both audio and picture across the island of Viti Levu are already in place. We need a transmitter and aerials to be bought and positioned on the tower in Nadi.”