2 Jun 2017

TBC case not about media freedom - chairman

7:12 am on 2 June 2017
TBC chair 'Ahongalu Fusimalohi

TBC chair 'Ahongalu Fusimalohi Photo: RNZI/Koro Vaka'uta

The chairman of Tonga's state broadcaster says a case being brought against them by the dismissed general manager Nanise Fifita has nothing to do with media freedom.

'Ahongalu Fushimalohi was appointed chair of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission last month after the former chair, Tapu Panuve was forced to resign, and shortly afterwards Ms Fifita was sacked.

The moves came after the prime minister 'Akilsi Pohiva had expressed concern at what he saw as a lack of support from the TBC, calling them an 'enemy of government'.

Regional media groups were outraged believing the Mr Pohiva was infringing on media independence.

However Mr Fushimalohi said Ms Fifita's dismissal despite a right of renewal clause, included by the previous administration, was about consulting the right people.

"The fact that it wasn't because of this media freedom issue has absolutely nothing to do with it, it's a policy decision because who wouldn't be disappointed, if you decide to appointment someone without first running it through us."

An injunction hearing on whether Ms Fifita can retain her position until a review of the dismissal is scheduled for Friday.

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