20 Jul 2010

Tonga Government claims it's not trying to regulate print media, just license it

3:36 pm on 20 July 2010

The regional media freedom network Pacific Freedom Forum is raising concerns at the Tonga Government's move to impose a new licensing regime on the country's print media.

Tonga's Ministry of Information and Communications spokesperson Paula Ma'u says the Government wants a similar system to what is already in place for broadcasting, but he says it's not aiming to regulate print media.

He says terms and conditions of the licencing will be negotiable, including fees.

But PFF Coordinator Lisa Williams-Lahari says it does amount to regulation and she's calling for public debate on the matter.

"Comes down to the same thing in the end, licensing and regulation. You have to ask the question of whose interest is being served. You have to look at how licensing and regulation is working in the broadcast environment and its well known that in terms of broadcasting in Tonga there's a lot of control around content issues as well and the red flags that that raises."

Lisa Williams-Lahari of the Pacific Freedom Forum.