Tongan broadcasters low key in election buildup

The chair of the Tonga Media Council, Pesi Fonua, says election coverage has taken a blow after changes at the state broadcaster.

Two of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission's most senior journalists were recently moved out of the newsroom into sales, and a popular talkback programme was cancelled.

The Tonga Broadcasting Commission and the government have had a strained relationship this year with Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva calling the broadcaster 'an enemy of government.'

However, revenue losses and unpopular content were the reasons given for the changes.

Mr Fonua said the changes have had an impact on the amount of election coverage broadcast on the TBC.

He Fonua said another broadcaster was also taking a low key approach to election issues.

"And one of the other FM stations which is popular, the owner of that is also running for the election so there is a little bit of a strange feeling going on. So with regard to the media and broadcasting, I think it is a bit quieter than normal."

The director of 87.5, Katalina Tohi, is standing for election as part of 'Akilisi Pohiva's Democratic Party.