Freedom of the Press 2008 - Tonga
|Publication Date||29 April 2008|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Tonga, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f63837.html [accessed 21 August 2014]|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 11 (of 30)
Political Environment: 10 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 10 (of 30)
Total Score: 31 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Freedom of the Press is guaranteed under the constitution and generally respected in practice. Despite a crackdown on the pro-democracy newspaper Kele'a in the beginning of the year, media freedom has improved in Tonga under the new monarch, King Siaosi Tupou V. Tongan soldiers temporarily closed the offices of Kele'a without explanation in February, charging its editor, Tavake Fusimalohi, with sedition and criminal defamation. Fusimalohi, founder and executive editor of the regional Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and formally general manager of the state-owned Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC), was honored with the 2007 Pacific Media Freedom Award in May. Kalafi Moala, a prominent Tongan publisher, government consultant and media advocate, however, later asserted in a widely circulated article that there had been no crackdown on the media in 2007 and that the closure of Kele'a was due to persistent publication on Sundays in breach of the law.
In spite of the small size of the nation and population, the kingdom has a remarkably diverse range of media. Some of the newspapers, such as Taimi 'o Tonga and Kele'a, are printed in New Zealand. The government publishes the Tonga Chronicle, or Kalonikali Tonga, while the independent news website Matangi Tonga (originally a magazine) is now well-established and one of the most reputable publications in the South Pacific. The TBC owns one AM and one FM station and the free-to-air Television Tonga station. There are also two privately owned television stations and three private radio stations.