TONGA MINISTER DEFENDS BROADCAST CRACKDOWN

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Journalists appeared in political spots

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 14, 2008) – Tonga’s Minister of Information, Afu’alo Matoto, says he supports and encourages the freedom for people to use the national broadcaster but says it has to be done within guidelines.

He has been critical of reports accusing the Government of hampering media freedom after staff at the Tonga Broadcasting Commission were stopped from hosting political programmes just two weeks out from the election.

Instead the interviewers of candidates will come from untrained non-journalists, including staff from the Prime Ministers’ office.

But Afu’alo Matoto says while some of the TBC’s journalists have extensive experience, says there is a need for greater knowledge and for more skill in interviewing.

"It’s probably not so much a matter of training, it is probably a matter of experience and to know exactly how they can keep within the boundaries of the policy of the organisation."

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