NUKU’ALOFA, 03 JULY 2017 (RNZI) — A prominent publisher in Tonga says the government’s decision to part-privatise the public broadcaster is the result of a personal vendetta.

The public enterprise minister, Poasi Tei, told parliament last week the Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) had not been able to pay its dividend and 49 percent of it would be sold.


The broadcaster and the prime minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, had been squabbling for months after Pohiva fired the broadcaster’s chair and labelled the TBC an “enemy of the government.”

The publisher Kalafi Moala said there was no justification for the commission’s sale, apart from petty politics.

“It’s political. It’s the fact that they cannot really control what’s going on and it is a personal vendetta and it’s really a quarrel between the prime minister himself and what he thinks a government-owned media group should do. It’s very unfortunate, it’s very sad, and it’s going to affect the overall services for Tonga.”

Moala said the Commission was set up as a public service, not a government cash cow, and the proposed sale was not at all justified.

“I think the government, unfortunately, have got that wrong. From the very beginning when the broadcasting network was set up it was always for the community service – when there are disasters that happen in Tonga. It’s really sad that they’re going to do it this way.”……PACNEWS [/restrict]