Talks on new TV station in Tonga

By: Netani Rika

MOVES are afoot in Tonga to set up a commercial television company.

Papua New Guinea’s Click TV has started negotiations to purchase a licence to operate in the kingdom.

Click TV’s Richard Broadbridge is expected in Tonga today to hold talks with potential partners.

The move was welcomed independent radio broadcaster, Maka Tohi.

“A second TV station will allow for more local content and non-government broadcast material,” Tohi said.

“It’s a huge challenge for non State entities to find space on the government station.

“Hopefully an independent commercial station will give us space to produce and broadcast local material.”

Tohi – former chief engineer of the state owned Tonga Broadcasting Corporation- has close links to Broadbridge.

The two worked closely during the establishment of Sky Pacific in Tonga when Broadbridge worked for Fiji TV.

Broadbridge later moved to PNG and set up the digitally based Click TV.

The company recently applied to operate a digital TV station in Kiribati.

Click provides services to 1000 homes in Kiribati and is expected to set up a similar service in Tonga.

Broadbridge has remained tightlipped about his foray into the kingdom.

But he us expected to meet a number of influential Tongans over the weekend.

The entry of a new TV company will come at a time when media freedom is under threat in the country.

But Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva has defended his hardline stand against media companies.

Pohiva said the recent dismissal of two Tonga Broadcasting Corporation officials was part of a long term vision for the kingdom’s development.

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