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Tonga PM disappointed with renewal of contract of TBC boss

The renewal of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission CEO Nanise Fifita’s contract has upset Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva so much he is considering sacking the chair of the board Tapu Panuve.

He said he was also considering sacking board member Aloma Johansson according to Kaniva News.

This is the latest twist in the Prime Minister’s feud with the Tongan national broadcaster, which he has accused of reporting unfairly on his government.

Media watch groups and journalists have accused him of threatening to undermine freedom of the media in the kingdom because of his comments about the TBC and his clashes with individual members of staff.

The Prime Minister said Panuve and Johannsson had completed their one year probationary period with the TBC, at which stage the government could decide whether it wanted them to continue in their posts or not.

Pōhiva said the board had not shown it cared enough to do something in response to his claims that Radio and Television Tonga’s reports on him and his government were malicious, unprofessional and unethical.

The Prime Minister made the comments after Kaniva News asked him in Auckland last week about the status of a review of the TBC he made public last week.

Pōhiva said he had talked to the Minister of Public Enterprise as he was the one who was responsible for the government’s board.

He said the government was investigating the legal implications of the review.

As Kaniva News reported last month, Pōhiva said the government was in the process of reassessing the state broadcaster’s “function and roles” and would meet to pass a resolution on the review soon.

The Prime Minister claimed Radio A3Z and Television Tonga had a poor record of performance.

He said there was proof the A3Z ran at a loss and there was a huge debt it might not be able to pay it back.

He said the way they reported and broadcast showed they were not independent or impartial and there was evidence of malice and hatred.

Last year the Prime Minister advised the Minister of Pubic Enterprise Poasi Tei to suspend TBC news manager Viola Ulakai with pay pending an investigation into her conduct.

The Prime Minister believed Ulakai’s style of interview and requests for press conferences were aimed at discrediting the government and not producing fair and impartial news reports.

Kaniva News has asked TBC board chair Tapu Panuve for comment.

Source:  Kaniva News
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