22 Apr 2008

Tonga Broadcasting Commission extends media clampdown

10:40 am on 22 April 2008

This month's controversial clampdown on political broadcasting imposed by the board and management of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission has been extended to include press conferences.

More than 70 candidates standing for election in Tonga are in the last days of campaigning.

The website, Matangi Tonga, says a candidate for this week's general election who invited TBC newsroom staff to a press conference has been stopped from broadcasting his programme.

'Inoke Hu'akau says a member of the TBC Board told him the reason it was cancelled was because TBC staff were present at the press conference.

'Inoke was one of several candidates whose earlier programmes were stopped by the TBC board and management on April 8.

Candidates who had used TBC presenters were told to re-record their campaign programmes, which could be done at the Board's expense.

'Inoke said instead of a campaign programme he then decided to call a press conference.

Meanwhile, TBC news staff confirmed that they were surprised the new political restriction was being extended to news conferences.