GOVERNMENT OF TONGA

MEDIA RELEASE

(28 April, 2016)

“Press Release of 15 April 2016 not intended to encroach on media freedom”

The Prime Minister’s Office wishes to clarify that the Press Release of 15 April 2016,“Hon Prime Minister received misleading request for a Press Conference” was not intended to encroach on media freedom or the freedom of media operators in Tonga and abroad.

The Prime Minister’s Office is responsible for the scrutiny of all requests from the media industry to ascertain their authenticity and legitimacy.  There have been a lot of ill-informed criticisms by several media operators in Tonga and abroad being levelled at the Hon Prime Minister for expressing his disappointment at the conduct of Mrs Viola Ulakai of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission who misrepresented herself in an email on 2 March 2016 requesting for a press conference on behalf of the Tonga Media Council (TMC).

The TMC is governed by its Board, elected every three years and the issues concerning their membership and the conduct of their members are at the discretion of the Board.  The TMC has denied Mrs Ulakai’s claims noting serious misconduct and breach of the ethical code of basic journalism.  The TMC has further confirmed that the Tonga Broadcasting Commission is not a Financial Member of the TMC, and therefore Mrs Ulakai’s claim that she is a Director of the TMC is false.

It is a universally accepted principle that journalists must not obtain or seek to obtain information through misrepresentation or subterfuge which is an attempt to omit or evade a rule or cause to shift blame.  Deception in journalism is unprofessional and morally wrong.  Concerns raised by Mrs Ulakai are acknowledged and are taken under advisement.

The Prime Minister’s Office reserves the right to clarify misinformation against the Hon Prime Minister and his Office.  We urge the Tongan public to address concerns to the Office of Public Relations for constructive processing.

-ENDS-

Issued by the:The Prime Minister’s Office, P.O. Box 62, Nuku’alofa, Tonga. Tel: (676) 24 644     Fax:  (676) 23 888; For media enquiries- Email:pressoffice@pmo.gov.toWebsite: www.pmo.gov.to

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