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Tonga Media Assoc. Lashes Out At Foreign Media

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TONGA MEDIA ASSOCIATION LASHES OUT AT FOREIGN MEDIA
http://www.rnzi.com

NUKU'ALOFA (RNZI/Pacific Media Watch): The Tonga Media Association has gone on the offensive over what it calls inaccurate, irresponsible and culturally insensitive criticism of the government by overseas media.

Association president Sangster Saulala complained to the New Zealand Press Council that the New Zealand media had "falsely depicted corruption" in the kingdom's government and caused dissent among Tongans.

He said the foreign media was recklessly campaigning on behalf of the pro-democracy movement.

Much of the criticism came in stories covering the government's recent ban on the Auckland-published Taimi 'o Tonga newspaper, which resumed sales last week after being shut out of Tonga for nearly four months.

The government was forced to release confiscated copies of the newspaper by court order after earlier efforts to ban the newspaper in the country were overruled by Fiji courts.

Saulala said the Tonga Media Association (TMA) would formally protest to the New Zealand government over what it calls offensive comments made in a report to Foreign Minister Phil Goff by former High Commissioner to Tonga Bryan Smythe.

The government-run Tonga Broadcasting Commission, meanwhile, also hit out at what it called the distorted picture given of Tonga by the foreign media.

It said it was for Tongans to solve their own political and economic issues.

But Kalafi Moala, publisher of Taimi 'o Tonga, which does not belong to the conservative Media Association, said it was a government-controlled organisation set up to muzzle the media.

+++niuswire

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