Reports say minister has sacked Tonga Broadcasting Commission boss Nanisē Fifita

    The Minister of Public Enterprise Hon. Poasi Tei has fired the Tonga Broadcasting Commission’s general manager Nanisē Fifita, reliable reports said today.

    Kaniva News has been reliably informed that the Minister ordered Fifita’s contract with Radio and Television Tonga to be terminated today (May 1).

    Our source said the government “apparently have legal reasons in regards to the renewal of her contract. So, based on that they have gone ahead and made the dismissal.”

    It is understood that the TBC board has been restructured, with ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi replacing Tapu Panuve as chair.

    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.

    It comes on the eve of the World Press Freedom Day on which journalists and media around the world celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to defend the media from attacks on their independence.

    The Pacific Islands Media Association secretary Jason Brown said it is undemocratic for the Tongan government to make vague claims of bias to justify extraordinary threats against news media that belong to the public, not government.

    Mr Brown said the government needed to detail specific allegations of when the public broadcaster acted unethically.

    Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva told Kaniva News in a recent interview he was not happy when he discovered Fifita’s contract was renewed while his government made a move to review the national broadcaster.

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

    He claimed TBC senior staffers, including Fifita, had unethical, malicious and unprofessional attitudes towards him and his government.

    As we reported last week, Tonga’s press freedom rating has sunk on this year’s rating report, released by Reporters Sans Frontiers which was based on an Index ranks of 180 countries.

    Tonga was placed 37th in 2016 a rise from 43rd position in 2015.

    It now ranks 49th, just above Papua New Guinea (51st) and well ahead of Fiji (67th) but behind Samoa at 21st.

    The report cited Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva’s fractious relationship with Tonga’s national  broadcaster as some of the factors that tarnished the kingdom’s good record.

    Kaniva News has contacted the Chief Secretary to Cabinet, the Chair of TBC Board, the Minister of Public Enterprise and Fifita for comments and confirmation and are awaiting a response.

    The main points

    • The Minister of Public Enterprise has fired the Tonga Broadcasting Commission’s general manager Nanise Fifita.
    • Kaniva News was reliably informed today that the Minister ordered Fifita’s contract with Radio and Television Tonga to be terminated today (May 1).
    • The source said the government “apparently have legal reasons in regards to the renewal of her contract. So, based on that they have gone ahead and made the dismissal.”
    • 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.

    For more information

    Tonga’s press freedom rating sinks; report cites bad blood between PM and broadcaster

     

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