The Republic of Fiji is a country in the South Pacific Ocean made up of more than 332 islands, 110 of which are inhabited.
Dutch and British explorers reached Fiji during the 17th and 18th centuries. Europeans settled in the islands during the 19th century and were largely missionaries, whalers and sandalwood traders.
Fiji was ruled as a British colony from 1874 and many Indian contract labourers were brought over as sugar plantation workers. Britain granted Fiji independence in 1970. Two military coups interrupted democratic rule in 1987 and resulted in the overthrowing of the Fijian monarchy and the Governor General. A new constitution in 1990 institutionalised the ethnic Fijian domination of the political system but a revised constitution in 1997 reversed this. The first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and the president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara were forced out in the coups of 2000 and 2006 and Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed power. After a high court ruling that the coup was unlawful in 2009, President Ratu Josefa Illoilo suspended the constitution, appointed himself as head of state and reappointed Bainimarama as Prime Minister.
Fiji is a parliamentary representative democratic republic with the Prime Minister as the head of government and President as the head of state. However, democratic elections have not been held following the coups of the 2000s and as a result Fiji has been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Fiji is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific with abundant natural resources such as timber, fish, gold, copper, offshore oil and hydropower. Its economy is reliant on tourism and sugar exports.
Media and Communication Landscape
The media and communication environment in Fiji is politically complex, facing regulatory and governmental
challenges. Find out more in the PACMAS State of the Media and Communication Report: Fiji
Policy and Legislation
• Since the introduction of the government’s Media Decree in 2012, the Fiji Media Industry Development
Authority censors and controls the media industry.
• The constitution guaranteeing freedom of the press has been suspended since 2009.
• Threats against local and international journalists and editors have been common since the military takeover.
• Some sections of the Fiji Media Council Code of Ethics are included in the Media Decree but others are left out.
• Regular amendments create a tense atmosphere in the Fijian media industry.
• Fiji government representatives nevertheless argue that the various decrees, which were put in place, have empowered the general population by giving them greater voice and improved their access to information.
• Fiji has had a National Disaster Management Plan since 1995.
• Radio Fiji and FM96 are used to communicate emergency warnings during natural disasters. The Early
Warning System also includes SMS messages, warning sirens, cars with speakers, and word of mouth.
• Fiji has agreements with telecommunications companies to provide emergency calls for free.
• During 2011 floods, social network sites were used by people to access information.
• Most technicians have no formal training and there is no institution in Fiji offering broadcast technicians training. Technicians with formal training may have qualifications in related fields from Fiji National University.
• There is no formal network of technicians in Fiji. Informal networks and internet forums are used to seek advice and information.
• FemLINKpacific trains women in content production using radio, video and mobile suitcase transmitters.
• Several education and training initiatives are available in the area of media and communications in Fiji; the main institutions are USP and FNU.
• Fiji is an education hub for the region.
• Journalists also receive on the job training, and access training and workshops offered by SPC and UN
• Recent training has focused on media law training in relation to the new regulations and amendments.
• FNU offers vocational courses in journalism, media production, and technical skills, and film production.
• FNU’s completion rate is 80 per cent. Graduate outcomes are recorded. Many graduates choose to work in
the NGO sector.
• FNU is challenged by a shortage of teachers.
• There is no media association in Fiji. The Fiji Media Council closed following the changes in legislation in 2009 and 2010.
• Climate change is a national priority.
• USP is playing a leading role in using participatory approaches to climate change communication.
• There is a lack of awareness of the impacts of climate change in the general community.
• There is a reported ‘jargon gap’; bridging this gap is seen as important.
• There is no targeted training around NCDs for journalists.
• Climate change communication occurs across many media outlets including radio, TV, Several
communication initiatives on the topic of NCDs have been broadcast in Fiji, including radio campaigns and
TV documentaries. These are in conjunction with inter-personal communication methods.
Any opinions represented in the PACMAS State of Media and Communication Report 2013: Fiji are those of the authors and research participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
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