Tuvalu News


FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (July 2, 2002 * PACNEWS/Pacific Media Watch)---Non-government organizations insist the Tuvalu government's tight control over the local media industry is stifling the freedom of expression in the country, the PACNEWS news agency reports

NGOs and media representatives at a national workshop on democracy said government dictated to the sole radio outlet in Tuvalu, the Tuvalu Media Corporation (TMC), which also publishes the country's monthly newspaper.

They said the TMC's predicament was often misunderstood by the outside world and was similar to the media industry situation in Niue, where the government had full control over its media industry.

A former TMC journalist said she was reprimanded a number of times because of negative reports about the government.

Workshop participants said the media was not independent and free enough to publish reports deemed to paint a bad picture of the government.

A reporter said journalists were not even at liberty to do investigative journalism because of the cultural concerns, and authorities were not cooperative.

However, Kausea Natano -- a former senior civil servant and now a candidate for the country's upcoming elections -- said TMC reporters and management were ignorant of their rights under the corporate status of the national radio.

He said the whole purpose of turning the national radio into a corporate body was to ensure its independence from government.

Natano said journalists were thus free to take government to task to ensure a more transparent and accountable society.

The president of the Tuvalu National Council of Women, Katalaina Malua, said civil societies in Tuvalu needed training on their role in relation to government. She said NGOs also needed to know how to effectively take advantage of the media as a tool in raising their concerns.

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