Television and Dependency: A Case Study of Policy Making in Fiji and Papua New Guinea

Date
1993
Authors
Stewart, Julianne
Horsfield, Bruce
Cook, Peter G.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Abstract
Dependency theory continues to offer the development researcher attractive possibilities for heuristic claims about relationships of cultural or economic dependency between nations. However, as recent work on dependency theory-for example, by Larrain (1990) and Wallerstein (1990)-demonstrates, claims that dependency theory provides a valuable explanatory tool must take into account the specific social, cultural, and economic circumstances and idiosyncrasies of that country. That is, dependency theory must always be a possible conclusion, rather than a premise, of investigation. Dependency theory must be answerable, therefore, to empirical investigation. This paper details two empirical studies that furnish data for evaluating the validity of applying dependency theory to an understanding of the socioeconomic impact of televisual development in the Pacific. In the mid-1980s both Fiji and Papua New Guinea leaped enthusiastically into agreements with Australian media interests to introduce broadcast television into those countries. An examination of the policy formulation and decision-making processes of both Fijian and Papua New Guinean governments at the time shows that politicians in both Suva and Port Moresby did not cope well with the incompatible needs of profitoriented foreign media entrepreneurs and development-oriented national groups. This paper therefore focuses on the period of the early negotiations and dealmaking in the two countries, during the mid-1980s and on the social, political, and economic consequences of the resulting deals for both television institutions and their target audiences. It is argued that these consequences have been conducive to relations of cultural and economic dependency.
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Citation
Stewart, J., B. Horsfield, and P. G. Cook. 1993. Television and Dependency: A Case Study of Policy Making in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. The Contemporary Pacific 5 (2): 333-63.
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