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Media freedom and state control in Tonga

Volume 16, Issue 2

October, 2010

From page
62
to page
80
Vikilani, S. F. (2010). Media freedom and state control in Tonga. Pacific Journalism Review, 16(2): 62-80.
UNESCO WPFD: Media Freedom in Oceania
Author(s): Sione Fatanitavake Vikilani
Publication date: 
October, 2010

The Tongan Constitution guarantees free speech and media freedom but this guarantee has often been misunderstood and misinterpreted by the media industry, the government and politicians alike. Freedom of speech was integrated into the Constitution from the beginning in 1875. However, as history has shown, this freedom has often been altered to silence opposition and critics’ voices. As early as 1882, the Tongan media had their first confrontation with the government and in 2003 saw a parallel incident unfolding. This article examines the influence of state control on the media in Tonga through an analysis of two case studies from different eras in Tongan history: the Niuvakai newspaper in 1882 and the Taimi ‘o Tonga newspaper in 2003.