A Brave New World

By Freddy Bohari
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LAST week, the staff of SMG and TVS experienced a situation that people had hoped all this while would not happen to them. Everyone had to go for swab tests and work from home as a quarantine measure after a close colleague was positively diagnosed with COVID-19.

What happened behind the scene was quite hectic, to say the least, for most of us, more so for the head of human resources, Dayangku Balqis Sharbanu, who had to coordinate and make sure everyone go for the swab tests and afterward follow up on the results, whilst thorough sanitising work was being done at the office and studio premises.

On the weekend, CEO Suhaimi Sulaiman caught everyone by surprise when he suggested that our prime time news at 8.00 p.m. be aired again, albeit for 15 minutes, from the homes of newsreaders and anchors. 

The plan was put into motion, and on Sunday night, we saw the fresh-faced commander-in-chief himself led his spirited, enthusiastic and young anchors on air to present the evening news from their respective homes via streamyard, a first in Malaysia. 

After words spread about it, some friends and acquaintances, who had heard about TVS before but never really paid attention, began messaging and inquiring about it and the people behind it. When was it launched? Who owns it? Why was it formed? Where is the office?

Most questions were centred around our CEO after I took the liberty of telling them that he had actually overseen a number of firsts with TVS, aside from the fact that TVS is the first state government-owned TV channel in Malaysia.

Those of my generation recognised him as one of the iconic faces of TV3, but not all knew that he was one of the pioneer group members that started and subsequently became the CEO and Group Editor-In-Chief of 24-hour news and information channel Astro Awani and appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) before he took on the mantle of CEO for Sarawak Media Group that manages TVS.

Sarawak Media Group Sdn Bhd’s Chief Executive Officer. Suhaimi Sulaiman

As for the firsts, one of them was TVS’ first online reality show ‘TVStarz’ which was on air for the first time on 16 March, hosted by a local talent, Jay C Ho, with the first season showcasing singing talents. Challengers, currently in the persons of Andrey Arifianto from Indonesia and local talent Nia Mia after Alisa Spencer had been eliminated, had been roped in to spice up the competition against the Dream Team. The second season has been tentatively planned to highlight hosting talents, and the third season acting talents.

Another first that I mentioned to the uninitiated was a Kadazandusun telemovie ‘Avakas’ which premiered on TVS last 10 April. To quote CEO Suhaimi, “Avakas’ is an example of an exceptional masterpiece created by creative talents from Borneo. We are proud to be the first television station in Malaysia to showcase ‘Avakas’. Sabah and Sarawak have a unique culture and TVS will always support local talents and content creators from Borneo. Unity can bring magic to the table”.

Another feather in the TVS cap was the recognition accorded to TVS’ very own producer, Joanne Lai Ing Jing, by the Sarawak state government on 17 March after she won an award for her music video production ‘Pengidup Aku’, an Iban song by a popular local songstress, Melissa Francis, that was nominated among the Top 30 best music videos at the International Thai Film Festival 2020.

For the first time too, Iban programmes had been introduced and showcased on a regular basis by TVS, such as ‘Panggau Kitai’, with its first Mandarin programme roughly translated as ‘I Am A Chinese School Student’ just aired recently, apart from the popular staples, ‘Ghazpirasi’, ‘Sejahtera Asia’ and ‘Borak Teh C Peng’ as well as ‘Koresponden TVS’, ‘Randau’ and ‘2030’.

A few programmes are in the pipeline, namely ‘Biz-Chat with Charles Liew’, ‘H-Capital with Balgis’, ‘Brand Pulse’, and ‘Cherita Kitai’.

These are notwithstanding the fact that TVS was launched only in October of last year, amidst the gloom and doom of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One thing that stood out was the fact that most, if not all, of the management, backroom staff, producers, assistant producers, broadcast journalists, cameramen, video editors, etc. were young, enthusiastic, energetic and full of initiatives, with all kinds of ideas that only pure minds and hearts could conjure, and with the promise of a brave new world ahead.

As I watched our young anchors and their mentor last Sunday night presenting news from their respective homes, it crossed my mind that these newsreaders are potentially future Suhaimi Sulaimans. The fact that the very best is mentoring and guiding them was heart-warming, with the transfer of technology being afforded by our excellent colleagues from Peninsular Malaysia.

It has been only seven months, and in spite of a few hiccups here and there, and the latest being operations affected by a few positive COVID cases, nothing is going to hold it down, as proven by a very much improved and well done news presentation last night.

TVS was meant to be, and it is here to stay.

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