22 Oct 2003

Tonga Government says Newspaper Act puts conditions already applying to other media

5:05 pm on 22 October 2003

The Tongan government is defending its passing of the Newspaper Act which opponents say will be used to shut down some of the print media.

The government's spokesperson, Eseta Fusitua, says the act simply applies the same conditions to print which have applied to all other media since the Communications Act in 2000.

It comes after a series of unsuccessful bans on the Taimi O Tonga newspaper, a measure to limit foreign media ownership, and an amendment to the Constitution which is widely viewed as an attack on media freedom.

Ms Fusitua says the freedoms are protected and the new controls are needed because up to now papers have operated under loose trading licences.

"And those trading licences say nothing about standards, about the requirements for the licensee, so none of those are stipulated anywhere. The same was true of the other media, like internet and radio and television."

Tonga's government spokesperson, Eseta Fusitua.