11 Feb 2008

Tonga state broadcaster will give all political groups air time opportunities if they pay up front

3:19 pm on 11 February 2008

The Tonga Broadcasting Corporation says there will be no more credit given to political groups over payment for campaigning or air-time on state radio or television.

The TBC manager, Elenoa Amanaki, made the comment while announcing that all political parties will have equal opportunity for air-time leading up to the General Elections in late April.

This follows an "in house clean-up" campaign that the TBC underwent following public complaints last year about the balance of its political reporting.

New guidelines, including censorhip, are in place for balanced political news coverage to which political groups must adhere.

Ms Amanaki says Tonga TV will offer a 30-minute slot for politicians, which is hosted by TBC and with predetermined subjects, as long as the clients pay.

"It's a (level) playing field for them to play on. They're given the same chance as everybody else. One of the conditions is that they have to pay this in cash. We've had a lot of problems with politicians, running around after the election trying to settle their bills."

Elenoa Amanaki