17 Feb 2004

New paper granted a licence in Tonga promises to be a government watchdog

4:40 pm on 17 February 2004

A new newspaper is being launched in Tonga this week with the editor saying it aims to be a government watchdog.

Talaki - or "to tell" - was originally denied a licence because of its proposed editor, Filo Akauola's, reporting history.

Mr Akauola worked for the Taimi o Tonga newspaper, which the government banned on numerous occasions.

However, after the paper appointed Catholic priest, Father Seluini Akauola as the editor, it was awarded a licence.

Father Akauola says the Talaki will attempt to report in a manner which serves the public.

"The paper must continue to do what it has to do. We will continue to be the watchdog looking at the government and their performances, and it was asked of them and they said yes that can go ahead as long as it is fair and truthful and so forth. So we will continue on that line."

Father Seluini Akauola.

There have been fears expressed internationally that media will be oppressed in Tonga following the new licensing process and recent legislation.

Three applications for print media licenses, including an offshoot of the Taimi O Tonga, were denied while at least six have been granted.