13 Oct 2004

Tonga says new media laws possible

4:49 pm on 13 October 2004

The Tonga Government says last week's Supreme Court ruling has given it the option of bringing in new laws to control the media.

It has welcomed last week's Supreme Court ruling which made void two measures brought in a year ago to regulate the print media.

The Supreme Court threw out the Media Operators Act and the Newspaper Act, saying they were inconsistent with the Constitution.

It also ruled that an associated constitutional amendment did not comply with the entrenched elements of the constitution.

The Government says it is very pleased that the Court has confirmed, for the first time in the country's history, that the Parliament can amend the Constitution, including provisions of free speech.

It says the framework for regulating the media has now been clarified.

The Government says while the constitutional provisions relating to freedom of the press are expressed to continue forever, Parliament can still amend that restriction.

It also says while the Operators Act and the Newspaper Act are no longer in force it has the option of putting in place a new statutory regime for newspapers as a consequence of the Court's findings.

It also says it will continue to be directly involved in developing what it calls appropriate standards in the print media.