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 damages awards. Some journalists say they are forced to censor themselves because of the threat of being bankrupted. In an effort to regulate “harmful” online content, especially on social media, 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 re-election of former 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. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, who became prime minister in October 2019, must put a stop to the pressure and meddling and ensure that journalists enjoy full editorial independence.
50 in 2020
27.27 in 2020