Now, a young team of storytellers are setting up a new station to produce and broadcast local news, which will be up and running later this year.
Semi Malaki received a government scholarship to study journalism and politics at University of the South Pacific in Fiji. He has returned home to Tuvalu to become the news director for Tuvalu TV.
Malaki has lived in Tuvalu most of his life but had the opportunity to travel to the Cook Islands for the Pacific Islands Forum in 2012, as part of the regional media team. He most recently attended the South Pacific Games, his second time covering it using social media.
“Covering the games was very emotional for our team and people back home,” he says.
Tuvalu is a small nation so they are thinking of doing a weekly TV news bulletin. And Malaki has ambitions to film a documentary in Tuvalu detailing and recording the effects of climate change on all of the islands.
“For me, growing up in one of the northern islands of Tuvalu, I see the changes of climate change, especially coastal erosion and salt water intrusion causing our crops to die.”
But their camera equipment is still held up in Fiji, so for now they are using their smart phones to catch footage and interviews from the Pacific Islands Forum, which has brought around 600 visitors to Funafuti.
“Everyone on the island is looking forward to having TV and they have been asking me ‘when is the TV going to be on’ and ‘are we going to see the excitements of the Forum?’”
Malaki and his news team have been receiving training from Aren Baoa who has been in the television industry for 20 years and tasked with training Pacific Islanders in TV production.
Now he is working closely with the enthusiastic TV team on Funafuti.
“It’s going to be very exciting for the people of Tuvalu,” says Baoa.
Television in Tuvalu was first introduced in the 90s, but it didn’t go well.
Now they are trying again, starting from the basics. All-new equipment has been purchased, from a TV company based in Papua New Guinea headed by director Richard Broadbridge, who also helped establish another television station in Kiribati earlier this year.
“We think it’s especially important for them to tell stories in their own language,” says Baoa.