Australia/Oceania: Tonga

Current Status: unknown

Tonga Press Council

Mr Pesi Fonua (chairman); Katalina Tohi (secretary)

P.O. Box 958

Nuku'alofa

Tonga

Tel: (676) 25 779

Fax: (676) 24 749

Email: vapress@matangitonga.to

The Media Council Inc. was created in Nuku'alofa in August 2003, in response to a move by the Tongan Government to regulate and control the Tongan media by amending Clause 7 of the Tongan Constitution, which guaranteed Free Speech and Press Freedom, and introducing accompanying legislation, the Newspaper Act and the Media Operator Act.

At the time it was realized by journalists in Tonga that there was a need for a strong national media organization to safe-guard press freedom, raise the standard of journalism, and create a forum for dialogue with the government on media related legislation and other matters. The Media Council Inc. was officially incorporated on 11 November, 2003.

The Tongan media before 2003 was fragmented so that by early 2003 there were two media associations, both struggling to remain active, but succeeding only in projecting the fragmentation of the industry itself, giving government one excuse to regulate and control the media.

The four main areas where we focus our operation are:

  • To strengthen the structure of the Council
  • To get the Complaint Committee to function effectively
  • To structure a training program
  • To actively engage with government on media related issues.

The Council is administered by a Board of Directors. Each member news organisation selects a director to be their representative in the Board, but the day to day running of the Council at the moment is taken care of by the Chairman, Secretary and the Treasurer. In the immediate future we hope to be able to have a full-time secretary to look after the day to day operation of the council. ??At the moment the running of the Council, the Training Committee and the Complaint Committee is on a voluntary basis.

Last Update - Aug 2006