1 May 2017

PIMA wants to discuss media freedom with Tongan PM

7:31 am on 1 May 2017

The Pacific Islands Media Association has offered to initiate mediation discussions with Tonga's Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, who recently threatened the state owned broadcaster with closure.

Last month Mr Pohiva said he was not happy with how the Tonga Broadcasting Commission operated and the services may be better carried out by a different provider.

The New Zealand based PIMA said the government needed to step back and take a hands-off approach to news media.

Members of PIMA executive including PIMA secretary Jason Brown, (far right)

Members of PIMA executive including PIMA secretary Jason Brown, (far right). Photo: PIMA

PIMA secretary Jason Brown said it is undemocratic to make vague claims of bias to justify extraordinary threats against news media that belong to the public, not government.

Mr Brown said to be taken seriously, the government needed to detail specific allegations where the public broadcaster acted unethically.

He said his organisation is writing to Mr Pohiva.

"We're hoping to engage officially with the government of Tonga, especially the Prime Minister who has expressed some very deep concerns of his own about the news media up there, and suggest some ways that could lead to some solutions," Mr Brown said.

Jason Brown said some form of mediation or an independent review with agreed assessors would be ideal.