Well not actually stammer in the real sense of the word, but rather as in pronouncing the word wrong. It happened last ngiht, Wednesday 26 November, 2008. I as sitting in front of the TV watching the news and feeling a bit cynical about TBV’s sorry excuse of a news broadcasting setup when I was jolted out of my contemptous reverie by the news presenter stumbling over several words. The folks sitting outside were surprised when I gave out a really loud guffaw.

The presenter (which I’m not gonna name) stumbled for a while when trying to pronounce “vaelens” and “juvenael” – the Bislama equivalents of “violence” and “juvenile”. After several attempts, he managed to get them right but got them mixed up again after a few sentences. By this time some of the folks sitting outside had joined me and we were laughing hysterically at the poor news presenter. The object of our laughter by this time, was the presenter’s face – which had been screwed up into an expression of frustration – probably for not being able to get the words right. It was a laugh indeed!

As much as we might laugh at TBV’s poor services, I could understand the news presenters frustrations. Television Blong Vanuatu (TBV) has been broadcasting news on the mostly Port Vila and Luganville TV station for the past eight years. And you would think that by this time they would have improved their services. Compared to other TV stations in the region, TBV ranks last on the list. It is disgusting – even at the best of times. Why do I say that?

For starters, the reception is so poor that the population of Port Vila have experienced snow on their TV screens more than they would have done so otherwise. Even on clear days, some people don’t get clear pictures. At times you are greeted with an elongated period of a blue screen – which some have referred to as the “blue screen of death”, similar to Microsoft’s blue screen of death when your PC is undergoing some internal conflict of some sort or other, then crashes anyhow.

And then you have those filthy French programs. Oh for the love of God, please when will TBV start producing its own programs???? A lot of the people who are fortunate enough to receive a good signal have to switch the box off anyhow, because almost all of the programs are in French – RFO, TV5, TNC and crap! The only decent French programs worth watching are the French-translated Latino soap operas like the current “Marina”.

Every once in a while a certain regional program is aired featuring cultural or economical developments around the Pacific. Or a documentary featuring local content is aired, but these are mostly the works of foreign video journalists. And then – almost as an apology for airing mostly French filth – some local advertisements are aired, but these are almost as crazy as the French crap itself.

And then there’s the boring ABC shows. For crying out loud, this is Vanuatu. The children’s programs being produced by ABC television are boring our kids to death and yet they put it up. Don’t the producers have brains to think up local equivalent? And those freaking Australian news updates, can’t TBV make their own research? What are they there for? Aren’t they journalists? If “In Focus” is soooooooo important for the people of Vanuatu, can’t they produce it in Bislama – giving it a local flavor and helping the grassroots to understand at least half of what those anchors are talking about?!?

Of course there are excuses to throw up – like lack of finances – well mostly that anyways. But VBTC (Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Coorporation), the parent organization of TBV, has been in existence for long enough to pull its socks right over its ears and stop listening to the boo that’s being shovelled at them by the people who say there’s no funds. If the management and staff are serious enough, maybe they can stop giving excuses and actually WORK to make VBTC (and for that matter TBV) to provide better broadcasting services to the population. (Well actually, the population that can access the services.)

Ah but therein lies a problem. From observation, VBTC is one of those bodies that spends more money than it makes money, therefore it runs on a deficit mostly. Due to that, those who are willing to make a difference cannot make it because there is no money to fund their good intentions. It just makes one ponder on the obvious – that bodies like VBTC should hire well-qualified, well-experienced people who can manage the work AND fiscal policies of such bodies with transparency and sustainability being at the core of their yearly plans.

Let’s go crazy!