By Sasha Silovo and Hera Hoi – EM TV Online
“I opened the station, I opened the station,” said one of EM TV’s longest serving employee’s, Augustine Kili, during an interview to mark the occasion of EM TV’s 27th anniversary.
“The first program I opened the station with was Sesame Street,” he said enthusiastically.
Augustine Kili was the Papua New Guinean who launched the on air programming of EM TV on 18 December, 1987 and has served with distinction and dedication since the station’s humble beginnings.
Kili, a name synonymous to media in PNG, hails from Lemanmanu village in the Haku constituency of Buka, North Bougainville.
He fondly recalls his journey over the years and takes us through time, calling EM TV “his home” and relating the oral history of Papua New Guinea’s premier television station.
The station started out as Pacific Media in 1984, with founder Alun Beck and a group of young lads, which included the energetic and eager-to-learn 17 year old Augustine Kili, who began by working with still photos.
Beck and his team conducted market –consumer research by installing television sets in the public markets of Port Moresby, which included the Gerehu market, Boroko, Koki and Waigani markets, where they would play compiled videos on tape that were an hour long. This went on for the next three years and was called ‘community TV’.
“My job was to compile on VHS format, it’s a broadcast quality thing,” said Kili when speaking about his first job.
During those years, the idea of establishing a TV station was new and still in its research stage at the time and with the nature of the company and the complexity of TV broadcasting being as such, Kili recalls it was a struggle having to start from scratch.
“Sometimes, when Pacific Media did not earn enough revenue, famous photographer Rocky Roe would pay us our wages,” Kili says.
In 1987, Channel Nine bought shares in Pacific Media and it was then that Pacific Media turned to Media Niugini and began broadcasting as EMTV, first within the National Capital District in July 1987 and growing further to include a transmission centre in Lae, opened in April 1988; with Mt Hagen, Goroka, Arawa and Rabaul following in rapid successon. A milestone was reached in June 1989 when EMTV commenced being received live in Lae, Mt Hagen and Goroka.
Augustine was laid off in 1989 because of the Bougainville crisis where the company went through a downsizing; he stayed away for almost two years and during that time he secured a contract with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) who were stationed in Buka, covering the peak of Bougainville Crisis.
Although Kili recalls that he had found it challenging to return after business operations had improved for EM TV; fate had its own plans for his career and it was through the Pacific Games that he found himself back with the company as a cameraman filming the games.
Hosting the games was the first of its kind and it was such an honour to be a part of, Kili said. From the smile on his face and the joyful tone of his voice when talking about the games, one could tell how the memories would always be kept alive in his mind.
Mr Kili was self-taught, and said there was no form of formal training that he received. However, the 47 year old has mastered every skill and area in TV, from being a camera operator to directing, producing, editing, presenting and much more.
His vast experience is reflected in the quality of his work.
“I look at the pain I went through, just to get it up… starting from scratch”
Through the years, the challenges, the heartaches, the joys and the fears, Mr Kili remains dedicated to the company he played a part in starting. He calls EM TV his home.
“This is home to me, my kids grew up here.”
His two children, who are both in their twenties, now, are “EM TV kids”, and Kili says that they never wanted him to leave EM TV, so he never did.
He has travelled throughout Papua New Guinea and has seen every corner of the nation, except for Ok Tedi in the Western Province.
“There were some good trips I had in my life overseas, I went to Hong Kong, Manilla, Tahiti, Australia, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia.
“If I didn’t join EM TV, if I had left, I would never have seen any of these places,” said Kili.
He reveals that one of the many aspects he loves of his job and of working with EM TV is that he has his own kit. Mr Kili describes this as being very important; the kit comprises his working equipment, tools and everything else he needs to effectively carry out his duties. Mr Kili notes the challenges and changes over the years; and the advantages of technological advancements.
While there are many opportunities out there for this media veteran, his loyalty remains with EM TV.
“Maybe if one day I leave, I’ll leave…”
When asked on what he would do if he decided to leave: “definitely not television or if anything, start my own production house…”
“I would go back home, and help people there with tourism, especially the hotel owners or even with filming movies or programs, back in AROB”, Mr Kili said.
With twenty-five years of service in EM TV, Augustine Kili is well-respected and a role model to other employees in EM TV; with in-depth knowledge, and wealth of skills and expertise in TV broadcasting, Kili continues to serve Media Niugini Limited with distinction.
Television has come a long way in the country, growing from strength to strength and we have people like Augustine Kili to be thankful for who created history by being the first Papua New Guinea’s to operate TV broadcast equipment; making it possible for television sets to receive EM TV in homes all around the nation.