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Tonga media success an opportunity

Tonga media success an opportunity

Tonga is to be congratulated for showing a huge leap up the media freedom ranks, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.

"Their latest ranking from Reporters Without Borders shows that Pacific nations can be media freedom leaders too," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.

"PFF welcomes the new ranking as a golden opportunity for the new government to build on long fought for freedoms of the press."

The Paris-based organisation, also known as Reporters Sans Frontiers, released new world ranks this week.

Tonga rose three points on its 2014 score, rising 19 places overall in the process, according to RSF. The organisation gave no details on the gains, which follow the election of long-time democracy and free speech campaigner, Akalisi Pohiva.

Holding its first democratic elections in 2010, Tonga "strengthened its position thanks to an independent press, which has established its role as a counter-weight to the government."

RSF said the "Polynesian nation has risen an enviable 19 places."

Fiji also gained on its previous rankings, adding 1.29 points on its 2014 score, rising 14 places as other Asia Pacific countries fell. New Zealand and Australia lost slightly, but gained against other states.

Samoa lost lest than a point, remaining steady in rankings against other states.

Papua New Guinea lost 2.41 points, falling 12 places against other states. Timor-Leste also lost points, 3.59, falling 26 places in the rankings.

Speaking on Timor-Leste, RSF noted that "The creation of a press council and the adoption of a code of ethics in October 2013 have been a disappointment. In 2014, the government proposed a tough new media law, which has led to widespread self-censorship."

The relatively small differences can lead to large falls on the table of nations due to close rankings.

PFF Co-Chair Monica Miller called on Tonga to review its positive achievement with an eye to further building on press freedoms.

"Tonga has the opportunity to review the role of state media, and the independence of public broadcasters."

PFF urged extra investment in public broadcasting and policy research into emerging concepts of solutions journalism.

Along with open data, Tonga could see more gains for informing citizens and citizen participation.

"Tonga now has the opportunity to become a role model for the region, seeking new paradigms from the old post-colonial systems," said Miller.


2015 Reporters Sans Frontiers world press freedom index!/index-details

Tonga, Fiji improve sharply in latest RSF World Press Freedom Index ‘decline’

‘Latest analysis of world press freedom paints a grim picture’

Greste release is welcome, as would be a free media in Australia


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