The Independent State of Samoa encompasses the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
Dutch and French explorers visited the islands during the 18th century and named them the Navigator Islands because of the locals’ seafaring abilities. English missionaries and traders arrived from the early 19th century and the area was used as a whaling centre. German and American traders also developed relationships with local chieftains and engaged in trade and harvested natural resources. Germany, the US and the UK fuelled two Samoan civil wars in the late 19th century by supplying arms to warring Samoan parties and disputing amongst themselves who should control the islands. The island chain was then partitioned by the powers into two parts in 1899 – the eastern part came under American administration and the western part became German Samoa after Britain relinquished all claims. However in 1914, New Zealand troops seized control from Germany authorities following a request from Britain. New Zealand then controlled the country as a trust territory as mandated by the League of Nations and the United Nations.
The country signed a Friendship Treaty with New Zealand in 1962 and gained independence. At the time, two chiefs were appointed joint heads of state for life. On the death of the remaining chief in 2007, the country changed from a constitutional monarchy to a parliamentary republic. Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi was then elected to be head of state by the legislature.
The constitution was amended to change the country’s name from Western Samoa to Samoa in 1997.
The legislature is made up of 49 members; 47 are chief title-holders elected from territorial districts by Samoans and two are chosen by non-Samoans with no chiefly affiliation. The Prime Minister (currently Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi) is chosen by the majority in the legislature.
The economy is traditionally dependent on local agriculture and fishing. Today, industry makes up the largest sector of the economy followed by services and agriculture. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the workforce and encompasses around 90 percent of exports such as coconut products, cocoa and bananas. Tourism is also an expanding sector of the economy.
Media and Communication Landscape
The media and communication environment in Samoa is diverse and rich, with considerable opportunities to support and grow systems and capacities across the component areas. Find out more in the PACMAS State of Media and Communication Report 2013: Samoa.
Policy and Legislation
• Media and Communication Legislation in Samoa includes the Broadcasting Act 2010, Film Control Amendment Act 2010, Newspapers and Printers Act 1992-1993, Telecommunication Act 2005, Telecommunication Amendment Act 2007, Telecommunication Amendment Act 2008 and the Samoa Broadcasting Corporation Act 2003
• Section 13 of Samoa’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression, though there is no specific reference to freedom of the media.
• No freedom of information legislation in Samoa.
• The Broadcasting Act 2010 allowed for the establishment of a regulator within an Office of the Broadcasting Regulator.
• The Code of Ethics was developed by JAWS (Journalists Association of Western Samoa)
• The Telecommunication Act 2005 (with the 2007 and 2008 amendments) allowed for telecommunications regulatory responsibilities to be managed within the Office of the Broadcasting Regulator.
• Samoa has also developed policies in the area of ICTs and e-Government.
• There are no specific associations for technicians and no support networks; JAWS is not viewed as a successful network for technicians.
• Telecommunications technicians access knowledge within their companies.
• The primary media outlet in a disaster is the government AM radio broadcaster, 2AP (within the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology).
• There is also a National Emergency Telecommunications Plan that involves landline and mobile providers (Digicel and BlueSky Samoa).
• The Disaster Monitoring Office uses media strategically in the lead up to drills and awareness days, and has published locally produced videos online relating to disaster preparedness and awareness.
• JAWS and PINA provide support to media professionals in SAMOA . PasiMA was also established with several representatives from Samoan media.
• Reliance on in-house training is not as easy for all local media outlets and the need to train junior staff is a drain on the time of senior staff.
• The Media and Journalism Department at the National University of Samoa (which merged with Samoa Polytechnic in 2006) offers a one-year certificate in journalism; an additional diploma year was added in response to industry dissatisfaction with the quality of graduates.
• The course curriculum is based on the Pacific Media Communication Facilities (PMCF) course design developed by PINA and is being implemented across the other TVET S in the Pacific (Fiji, PN G, Vanuatu and Tonga).
• A major challenge of the programs is that enrolling at the polytechnic is one of the only options for further education open to students who have not achieved high academic scores in the PSSV (Pacific Secondary School Certificate).
• Samoa has made progress in relation to climate change awareness, and concern among the government, the media and the general public is reported to be medium or high.
• Little access to workshops and training for media professionals is reported on NCDs or climate change. Training is welcome, particularly for assistance with interpreting scientific reports written in English.
• Barriers to media coverage of NCD-related issues are reported to include confused messages due to the fragmentation of the health sector; a lack of awareness of who is responsible for health communication; lack of targeting of messages; and conflicting messages.
• Youth have been important to disaster awareness activities; the school curriculum includes climate change and disaster management with resource kits available for teachers from early childhood level through to secondary school.
Any opinions represented in the PACMAS State of Media and Communication Report 2013: Samoa are those of the authors and research participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.