Tonga - Media

The government's radiotelegraph station at Nuku'alofa has substations at Neiafu (Vava'u), Pangai, Ha'afeva and Nomuka (in the Ha'apai group), 'Eua, and Niuatoputapu. There is also a direct overseas telegraph service linking Nuku'alofa with Wellington, Suva, Apia, and Pago Pago. An internal radiotelephone service connects Nuku'alofa, 'Eua, Nomuka, Ha'afeva, and Vava'u, and a direct overseas radiotelephone service links Nuku'alofa to other Pacific island capitals. As of 1996, there were an estimated 8,000 mainline telephones in use and 302 cellular phones.

The Tonga Broadcasting Commission's Radio Tonga was established in 1961. It has two medium-wave transmitters of 10 kw each, and broadcasts about 75 hours a week in Tongan, English, Fijian, and Samoan; commercial advertising is accepted. As of 2001, there were four radio stations and three television stations. In 1997 Tonga had 600 radios and 18 television sets in use per 1,000 population. In 2000, there were two Internet service providers serving 1,000 subscribers.

The government publishes a weekly newspaper, the Tonga Chronicle, which has an average circulation (in 2002) of 7,000 copies in Tongan and English. There are also church newspapers issued by missions and a few private publications printed at regular intervals.

The constitution provides for free speech and a free press, although occasional infringements of press freedoms do occur. A 1999 US report on human right criticized the government for stifling freedoms of speech and the press. In non-government publications, opposition opinion appears regularly, usually without interference, but journalists were being targeted for prosecution in civil lawsuits by the minister of police.

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