Communications authority threatens, investigates Kele‘a but broadcaster baffled  by lack of clarity in the warning letter

The Ministry of Communications has written and threatened to sue Kele’a radio after it received complaints against its broadcasting services.

Vilisoni Tu’iniua and Paula Ma’u

But the broadcaster said it was mystified by the ambiguity and lack of transparency of the warning.

In a letter from the CEO of the Ministry of Communications, seen by Kaniva News, Paula Ma’u warned the radio against further broadcasting of the contents in question while an investigation was underway.

Ma’u did not give any details of the complaints, who was complaining and what were the Kele’a’s news items from which the complaints arose.

Kele’a broadcaster Vilisoni Tu’iniua described the warning as a “fakapatū” or scare tactic.

“We are getting used to the way of how they scare us,” Tu’iniua told Kaniva News in Tongan.

He said the Authority previously removed Kele’a’s broadcasting license, but it was later reinstated after the Publication took legal actions.

Tu’iniua said the Kele’a radio did not receive any complaints from the public.

He said the Communication Authority did not identify any particular radio programme of concern.

NZ Media Council

In New Zealand, it was a procedure that any complainant who brought a complaint against a publication must, unless exempted by the Executive Director of the Council, first lodge the complaint in writing with the editor of the publication.

“The Media Council’s complaint procedure is public and transparent and Council rulings are published on its website. Therefore, the name of a complainant will be published unless there are exceptional circumstances, as determined by the Media Council”.

A copy of Ma’u’s letter to Siaosi Pōhiva of the Kele’a Publications is copied verbatim below:

Notification for Kele’a Publications Limited Complaints

As the registrar for all communication services in Tonga pursuant to section 142 of Communication Act, I write to serve you this notification for your radio broadcasting station in relation to the above-mentioned subject matter.

It has come to our attention that the Ministry has been receiving reports against contents that are being broadcasted through the performance of your service. The Ministry is of a view that there is a main concern here and potential claim against your license as a Network Operator pursuant to section 35 and Schedule 1 of the Communication Act.

It is therefore strongly notified to you that the Ministry will be carrying out preliminary investigations and inquiries to deal with these complaints, and as such we highly recommend that such contents being broadcasted are to be avoided.

In the event where the Ministry continues to receive reports of complaint against the same reason from your service, the Ministry will have the intention to take legal proceedings in accordance with the Communication Act.

We appreciate your co-operation and understanding of this matter.

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