Pacific Islands media talk about the web

Thanks to John Utanga and the Pacific Islands Media Association for inviting me to participate in a panel discussion at their conference in Auckland today. It’s always great to see journalists looking to spread their work and interact with their readers online. Here are key points from the panel members in the order in which they […]

The King’s treasures

The announcement that Tonga’s new king plans to sell his many business interests in the country raises a number of questions, including: How did the former Crown Prince acquire so many assets in a country that is reported to be close to bankruptcy? What are the chances of finding Tongan investors to buy his business interests? […]

Champagne lifestyle in Vanuatu

It was just after 7am and raining as Pacific Princess slipped almost silently into the little bay on the east coast of Espiritu Santo island. For a few moments it was possible to imagine we had taken Vanuatu’s largest island by surprise. There were no tugboats to escort us or dancers in traditional costume waiting […]

Solomons radio restricted

Despite a peace agreement between the government and militants, Solomon Islands broadcasters continue to work under state-of-emergency laws. The media are prohibited from reporting freely on ethnic violence that has resulted in at least eight deaths and caused as many as 15,000 people to flee their homes. Ironically, the news story that cannot be fully […]

Solomons radio stations launched

Despite civil unrest and government restrictions on the media, two new radio stations have recently taken to the air in Honiara, capital of Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) has launched Wantok FM. Wantok (literally “one talk” in the Pidgin language, meaning “people who speak our language” or “our kin”) covers mainly the capital city […]

New Zealand radio’s big myth

For years, the New Zealand radio industry has trumpeted that this country has “more radio stations per capita than anywhere else”. This “fact” has been repeated by countless journalists who apparently can’t be bothered working out the numbers for themselves. In 1999 I sent the following letter to the editor of Unlimited magazine, and an […]

Distant broadcasters find common ground

At first, Sonam Tshong had a tough time convincing people he was serious.  Few people believed Tshong would travel more than 10,000 kilometers from the Himalayan mountains to study broadcasting in a country that is barely visible on many world maps.  His friends and colleagues wouldn’t have thought it unusual if, on the other hand, […]

Tricky paths to signal distribution

Getting a signal from the studio to the transmitter is a growing challenge for radio engineers in the Pacific islands. Until a few years ago, most stations used landlines to feed programming to their medium-wave or short-wave AM transmitters. In an attempt to cut operating costs while improving audio quality, many stations now broadcast on […]

Respect Pacific cultures, broadcasters urged

There is a story told frequently throughout the Pacific islands. When Christian missionaries arrived from Europe in the last century, they found local inhabitants wearing little clothing. Shocked by what they saw, the Europeans set about teaching modesty. So successful were the missionaries that, even today, it is not uncommon to see island men garbed […]

Equipment failure paralyzes Tuvalu radio

In the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands), Pusinelli Laafai is unhappy. Although he is the manager of Radio Tuvalu, Laafai is powerless to restore his country’s one-year-old FM network, which went off the air due to equipment failure at eight remote transmitter sites.  “When we first switched from AM to satellite FM […]