29 Jul 2003

Tonga passed new law restricting foreign owned media

7:41 pm on 29 July 2003

The Tongan Assembly has passed a law that means the New Zealand produced newspaper Taimi O Tonga is again likely to be banned.

The paper has this year successfully fought off five Government bans on its sale in Tonga, but yesterday(tues) the Assembly passed the Media Operator's Bill, which places curbs on foreigners operating media in Tonga.

The publisher of the Taimi, Kalafi Moala, is Tongan but has American citizenship.

The law change comes ahead of debate on amendments to the constitution also directed at restricting the Taimi.

The pro-democracy MP Akilisi Pohiva says the Media Operator's Act breaches clause four of the constitution.

"it is unconstitutional to accept the legislation we passed because of clause four.... our concern is that the restrictions imposed by the new legislation would not allow the Taimi O Tonga to be imported into Tonga"

Akilisi Pohiva says the publisher would be able to challenge the legislation in the courts.