23 Apr 2008

Restrictions on state broadcasting likely to impact on Tonga election, says journalist

8:28 pm on 23 April 2008

Restrictions on access to critical state broadcasting in Tonga are likely to have an impact on the results of this week's election.

That is the view of veteran journalist, Pesi Fonua, who compiles the Matangi Tonga website and heads the Tonga Media Council.

Two weeks ago the Tonga Broadcasting Commission blocked its staff from fronting any programmes by political candidates leading up to the election.

The TBC management says it took the action because its journalists were letting through unchallenged claims but some candidates say the move is censorship.

Pesi Fonua says this week a political press conference had to be re-recorded after the TBC took exception to the presence of its staff at the original event.

He says the moves by the TBC are likely to affect the result.

"I think it will because, you know, the Tonga election very much depends on how the candidates present themselves. Remember they are entering the House as individuals, so their performance or their presentation counts. Yeah, I think it will definitely have an impact."