Pacific Media Watch
Publisher says Tongan Media Association aims to muzzle media

Title -- 3963 TONGA: Publisher says Tongan Media Association aims to muzzle media
Date -- 3 March 2003
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- RNZI 3/3/03
Copyright -- RNZI
Status -- Unabridged

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AUCKLAND (RNZI/Pacific Media Watch): Kalafi Moala, publisher of the Taimi 'o Tonga newspaper, which has been banned from Tonga, says the Tongan Media Association is a Government controlled organisation set up to muzzle the media.

The Tongan government banned the importing of the Auckland produced paper last week, claiming it was aiming to overthrow it and that its reporting was unbalanced.

And the government spokesperson Eseta Fusitua says the Taimi had an ethical responsibility to join the local Media Association, and that the government may have to legally enforce this, to ensure media outlets became more accountable.

But Moala says the paper could not be part of a body controlled by government.

“Their so called code of ethics is a code of ethics that says basically you do not criticise the royal family, you do not expose corruption in government, you do not uncover things that would make the government look bad, both locally and internationally, so how can we subscribe to a code of ethics that will totally muzzle the voice of the independent media,” Moala says.

Moala says his company, Lali Media, hopes to have a judicial review of the Government’s ban tomorrow.

He also says that staff at the paper’s Nuku'alofa office are being harassed by police.

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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Sunday, 9 March 2003

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