26 Jun 2007

Tonga's public broadcaster banned from covering parliament

2:03 pm on 26 June 2007

A gag order remains in place on the coverage of parliament by the Tonga Broadcasting Commission, TBC.

The office of the prime minister says the order to stop political TV and radio reporting from parliament came from TBC's general manager, not the P.M's office as reported.

Our correspondent Mateni Tapueluelu says people don't understand why a gag has been put in place because what gets broadcast on the TBC is exactly what happens in parliament.

"The politicians here in Tonga are pointing to the Prime Minister that he gave that order because he had a meeting with the General Manager on the Friday before the order came out. It is not well received in Tonga, and it is a sign that the government will hide a lot of things from the people."

Mateni Tapueluelu says there is speculation that the gag may be due to the People's Representatives getting more media air time or it could be a move to have talks behind closed doors regarding how millions of dollars loaned from China will be spent.

He says journalists working for newspapers and within parliament are criticising the order.