FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tonga newsroom: media workers Fatai Fainga’a and Kalisi Fa’asisila. Photo / Merana Kitione / Pacmas
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Monday 16th February 2015, Rarotonga, Cook Islands -
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Tonga is to be congratulated for showing a huge leap up the media freedom ranks, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.
"Their latest ranking from Reporters Without Borders shows that Pacific nations can be media freedom leaders too," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.
"PFF welcomes the new ranking as a golden opportunity for the new government to build on long fought for freedoms of the press."
The Paris-based organisation, also known as Reporters Sans Frontiers, released new world ranks this week.
Tonga rose three points on its 2014 score, rising 19 places overall in the process, according to RSF. The organisation gave no details on the gains, which follow the election of long-time democracy and free speech campaigner, Akalisi Pohiva.
Holding its first democratic elections in 2010, Tonga "strengthened its position thanks to an independent press, which has established its role as a counter-weight to the government."
RSF said the "Polynesian nation has risen an enviable 19 places."
Fiji also gained on its previous rankings, adding 1.29 points on its 2014 score, rising 14 places as other Asia Pacific countries fell. New Zealand and Australia lost slightly, but gained against other states.
Samoa lost lest than a point, remaining steady in rankings against other states.
Papua New Guinea lost 2.41 points, falling 12 places against other states. Timor-Leste also lost points, 3.59, falling 26 places in the rankings.
Speaking on Timor-Leste, RSF noted that "The creation of a press council and the adoption of a code of ethics in October 2013 have been a disappointment. In 2014, the government proposed a tough new media law, which has led to widespread self-censorship."
The relatively small differences can lead to large falls on the table of nations due to close rankings.
PFF Co-Chair Monica Miller called on Tonga to review its positive achievement with an eye to further building on press freedoms.
"Tonga has the opportunity to review the role of state media, and the independence of public broadcasters."
PFF urged extra investment in public broadcasting and policy research into emerging concepts of solutions journalism.
Along with open data, Tonga could see more gains for informing citizens and citizen participation.
"Tonga now has the opportunity to become a role model for the region, seeking new paradigms from the old post-colonial systems," said Miller.
2015 Reporters Sans Frontiers world press freedom index
Tonga, Fiji improve sharply in latest RSF World Press Freedom Index ‘decline’
‘Latest analysis of world press freedom paints a grim picture’
Greste release is welcome, as would be a free media in Australia
Pacific Freedom Forum FB page
Matangi Tonga Online FB page
PFF Chair Titi Gabi | Freelance Journalist | Papua New Guinea Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PFF co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
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