Thank you — for giving us TVS

Thank God we’re living in a country where the sky’s the limit, the stores are open late and you can shop in bed thanks to television.

– Joan Rivers, American comedian

Six months ago, sometime in early May, when I received news from a contact in Putrajaya that Sarawak would most likely succeed in obtaining a licence to operate its own television station, I didn’t have the slightest doubt that we would have our own station.

What made me even more confident we’ll finally get to operate our own TV broadcasting station were these assuring words from him: “Your ketua menteri is something. He convinced our Tan Sri PM to give him a licence.”

That much only he was willing to reveal. I tried to check with some people close to the powers that be in Petra Jaya if they knew anything, but they were not giving me any answers. Maybe they really didn’t know.

I forgot about the whole thing until Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg brought up the issue of the TV station in his speech during the Sarawak Day celebration in Miri in late July.

He announced the Multimedia and Communication Ministry had given Sarawak a 10-year licence to operate a television station.

The chief minister also revealed that a local GLC, Sarawak Media Group (SMG), would manage and operate the TV station.

Thanks, Datuk Patinggi! Yes, you are indeed something. While others before you failed, you succeeded.

I recall a conversation with Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, the then DPM and home minister, during a courtesy call on him by a delegation from our business chamber in 2017. I had asked why Putrajaya was kedekut (stingy) in approving TV licences. His reply: “Encik Rajah, you think approving a TV permit senang kah? It’s not like approving newspaper licences lah. Even Sarawak’s billions cannot get your bosses (political leaders) a TV station lah!”

Well, Datuk Seri! The Big Boss did it! Yes, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin gave him a TV station. Isn’t he something? We have TVS now.

The state government seriously pursued the TV station matter after Abang Johari became chief minister in January, 2017. However, the Pakatan Harapan government put paid to our dreams after its victory in GE14 in May 2018.

Let’s not forget one fact. All this time national TV stations, especially the private ones, did not pay much attention to materials from Sarawak, including current issues.

In fact, during PH’s rule, much about the state’s leaders and non-political activities, including tourism, was blacked out, even though PH promised to exercise media freedom before coming to power.

Let this be a painful lesson to us. Never depend on others to disseminate news about Sarawak’s development, policies or economy. We have got to do it ourselves. TVS is the answer.

Abang Johari has given us more than 80 initiatives so far. He took over Bakun Dam in his first year of office. He set up Petros and DBOS, and collected RM3 billion in SST from Petronas and introduced several dozen initiatives involving the interests, welfare and future of the people.

To me, Abang Johari’s most notable and impressive achievement is convincing Putrajaya to allow us to have a TV station. His close ties with Muhyiddin and federal leaders did it.

He has the courage and vision and deep understanding of the big and effective role that a TV station can play in shaping Sarawak and its people. He is determined to drive Sarawak into a developed state by 2030. And TVS will play a big and important role towards this.

The popularity of TVS depends largely on its ability to feature programmes and content that will appeal to the 2.8 million people in Sarawak. Programmes should be attractive, relevant and meet the tastes of not only Sarawak’s multiracial community, but also Malayans and Sabahans. Perhaps people in neighbouring countries too.

Political analyst and columnist Dr Jeniri Amir highlighted the importance of TVS featuring appealing content when he wrote in his column:

“TVS needs to be based on principles, based on local and international content. It will definitely focus on content related to Sarawak, be it historical, political, cultural, economy, tourism, sports, entertainment or infrastructure development.

“The lifestyle and culture of the 30 tribes in Sarawak will certainly be highlighted through various programmes that are contemporary, inspiring and interesting, in accordance with its slogan, ‘We Inspire Your World’.

“The advantage of TVS lies in the content centred on Sarawak and the life of Sarawak society. This is the best opportunity for industry players, including talented young people in various fields to prove their talents in the fields of documentaries, talk shows, short films, etc.”

TVS needs to set a high benchmark to enable it to be well received by the audience. What are the TVS benchmarks and models?

Says Jeniri: “BBC, CNBC, CNN or Channel News Asia. It should be noted that the world’s best TV channels are CBS, NBC, HBO, ABC, Fox, Fox News Channel, ESPN, Univision, and USA Network.”

Now, many might be wondering why TVS is being broadcasted on Astro? SMG CEO Suhaimi Sulaiman will answer this.

“We have to start somewhere and now, there are a lot of people who are using Astro as their cable network. In Sarawak, 80 percent of the people have access to Astro. We are also going on MyTV and we are working out the details.”

Support our station. Switch on to TVS via Channel 122 Astro!

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