11 Feb 2008

Tongan pro-democracy MP welcomes TBC move to even playing field

9:02 pm on 11 February 2008

Tonga's leading pro-democracy MP says he welcomes a move by the state broadcaster to give equal opportunity for air-time to all political groups.

However Akilisi Pohiva says doubts whether the Tonga Broadcasting Corporation will allow opponents of the government to express their political views without interference.

The TBC says guidelines are now in place for balanced political news coverage and reporting.

It adds that formatted news programmes will be censored to prevent any further defamation suits against TBC when personal attacks and criticisms are made against other persons or political groups.

But Mr Pohiva says that criticism should be allowed as it is part of the political process.

"In the past, they used to screen the programme. But if they allow us to freely come out and express our opinion and our ideas, I'll really appreciate that."

Freedom of the press is allowed here in Tonga and criticism should be part of the process.

Akilisi Pohiva