KITV loses hula festival to KFVE-TV


POSTED: Friday, October 02, 2009

KFVE-TV, best known for its University of Hawaii sports coverage, has signed a five-year contract to televise the Merrie Monarch Festival, regarded by many as the Super Bowl of hula.

Merrie Monarch organizers announced yesterday after a round of last-minute negotiations between competing TV stations that the festival would end its 29-year relationship with former televised-coverage provider KITV. Next year's hula competition, slated for April 8-10, will be broadcast on KFVE, Channel 5.

The competition segment of the weeklong festival was first televised on KITV in 1981 as a public service program.

However, it has grown into the state's most-watched, longest-running local TV program and, as such, is an important coup within Hawaii's television industry.

“;We are honored to be the new broadcast home of such a prestigious and important local event,”; said John Fink, KFVE's general manager.

KFVE is owned by Alabama-based Raycom Media Inc., which owns or operates stations in 36 markets in 18 states. Last month, TV operations at KGMB-TV, KHNL-TV and KFVE were consolidated under a shared services agreement.

Over the last quarter-century, KFVE has showcased such local events as University of Hawaii sports, the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, “;Sam Choy's Kitchen,”; “;Heineken Hot Hawaiian Nights”; and other special programs, Fink said.

“;We look forward to respecting the traditions of the Merrie Monarch, and being a part of the festival for years to come,”; he said.

Although KITV had submitted a good proposal, KFVE's proposal was stronger, said Roland Yamamoto, who is producing the Merrie Monarch television program along with his partner, Heather Giugni of the Kukui Media Group.

Yamamoto declined to disclose the financial terms of the new contract; however, he said that one of the most important considerations was that the festival would retain the copyright, which it didn't have before. It became obvious that the festival needed more control so that it could exercise its mandate to be the steward of the Hawaiian culture, he said.

“;The Merrie Monarch is now put in a better position to make decisions about how things are distributed,”; Yamamoto said. “;It's not always about money; it's about what is proper within the Hawaiian culture.”;

Merrie Monarch President Luana Kawelu expressed gratitude to KITV for helping the festival share the beauty of hula with TV audiences for nearly three decades.

“;And now we look forward to building new relationships with KFVE to perpetuate Hawaiian culture and the festival as both continue to grow and thrive,”; Kawelu said.

KITV General Manager Mike Rosenberg said the station cherished its partnership with the Merrie Monarch Festival.

“;We wish them the best in the future,”; Rosenberg said.