TONGA GOVERNMENT PLANS INFORMATION STRATEGY

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GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF TONGA Government Information Unit Prime Minister’s Office Nuku‘alofa TONGA

MEDIA STATEMENT March 14, 2002

Samba, the Fiji design and public relations company, will assist the Tongan Government to improve its media communications.

Government spokesperson Hon. Clive Edwards said it was important for the public to be more fully informed about key issues affecting the Kingdom and its people.

Hon. Clive Edwards said the Government was concerned about media reports which painted a distorted picture of Tonga.

"Some of the reportage, locally and overseas, is extremely biased and damaging," says Hon. Clive Edwards. "There is responsibility on the part of Government to correct this. We also need to highlight some of the positive aspects about our country, its culture and way of life. But our capacity to communicate is severely limited because the Government machinery is inadequate."

Samba director, Matt Wilson, and consultant, Mue Bentley, met Ministers in Nuku‘alofa this week. They were briefed on the Government’s existing media/communication and information systems and had discussions on many related issues.

Matt Wilson is a well-known and respected figure in Fiji’s media industry and is familiar with the region. He is a former chief-of-staff of the Fiji Times and editorial director of Islands Business. Mr. Wilson was one of the founders of Communications Fiji, owner of the South Pacific’s largest commercial radio network. He has been actively associated with journalism training.

Samba’s public relations manager, Emelita Wendt-Wilson, also has a background in journalism. She worked at the Fiji Times and the forerunner of the Islands Business magazine. Ms. Wendt-Wilson served as information specialist at the American Embassy in Suva and is a former public relations director of Air Pacific.

Mr. Wilson says in common with many regional countries, Tonga has difficulties with its media relations and communications.

"This is largely due to the lack of resources and trained specialists," he said. "The Tongan Government is rightly concerned about negative coverage of the Kingdom’s affairs."

"The initial stage of our assignment is to gather information and to evaluate the information system in place at the moment and then to propose a detailed information strategy and communication plan."

Mr. Wilson has visited Tonga on a number of occasions, on a variety of assignments.

For further information please contact: Government Information Unit Prime Minister’s Office Nuku’alofa TONGA

Tel: (676) 24 644 Fax: (676) 23 888 Email: pmomail@pmo.gov.to or kmatoto@pmo.gov.to  Website: www.pmo.gov.to 

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