10 Feb 2004

Tonga Government says poor quality reporting cost newspaper's their licences

8:30 am on 10 February 2004

The government secretary in Tonga, Eseta Fusitua, says three publications in the Kingdom have been declined operating licences because of the quality of their reporting.

Two controversial laws, introduced late last year, changed the licensing requirements for publications in Tonga.

Three applications were declined including the Taimi o Tonga and the pro-democracy newsletter, the Kele'a.

The Taimi's publisher, Kalafi Moala, says the applications that have been approved are church newsletters or pro-government newspapers.

Mr Moala says there was favouritism in the application process, but Mrs Fusitua says the other three applications were not lawful.

"The editor and the newsroom staff, the Act requires evidence of competence and evidence of accuracy, truthfulness etcetera. What was used was copies of their papers and we just tested according to the law."