Disturbing erosion of media independence
Independent media outlets have increasingly assumed a watchdog role since the first democratic elections in 2010. However, politicians have not hesitated to sue media outlets, exposing them to the risk of heavy fines. Some journalists say they are forced to censor themselves due to the threat of bankruptcy. In an effort to regulate “harmful” online content, especially on social networks, the government adopted new laws in 2015, one of which provides for the creation of an Internet regulatory agency with the power to block websites without reference to a judge. The reelection of Prime Minister Samiuela 'Akilisi Pōhiva’s party in November 2017 was accompanied by growing tension between the government and journalists. This was particularly so at the state radio and TV broadcaster, the Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC), where two senior editors were sidelined under pressure from the government. In 2018, the government gained full control over the TBC, suppressing all vestiges of editorial independence.
51 in 2018
25.68 in 2018