Elected president in mid-2003, Anote Tong has undertaken to allow more press freedom. But, by the end of the year, he had still not repealed a very strict press law that was adopted in 2002.
After President Anote Tong took office in July, Iaram Tabureka, the editor of the government-owned daily Te Uekera, Timeon Ioane, the chairman of the government-owned TV station BPA and other leading journalists called for the repeal or amendment of the October 2002 press law.
The law allows the Newspaper Registration Office, whose head is named by the government, to shut down any publication that is the subject of a complaint. It also bans media proprietors, editors and printers from publishing anything that "offends against good taste or decency or is likely to encourage or incite to crime or to lead to disorder or be offensive to public feeling."
Under this law, published material must be presented with "due accuracy and impartiality" and when an article "contains matters affecting the credibility or reputation of any person," they must be able to respond in a similar format. The law defines non-compliance, or continuing to publish after withdrawal of a licence, as an offence.