PNG State Broadcaster Suspends Senior Editor

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned that Papua New Guinea’s public

broadcaster is bowing to political pressures, after it suspended a senior news

editor this week.

 

Amid deepening political controversy

in the Pacific Island nation, Dora Masseung, executive news

director of the National Broadcasting

Corporation (NBC), was suspended on full pay on December 14. Government officials

had reportedly alleged the broadcaster was biased in its reporting on current

political activities.

 

The suspension came one day after Michael

Somare stepped aside as Prime Minister while a

tribunal assesses allegations that he failed to lodge several annual financial

statements in the 1990s. Somare has regularly accused the media and

public officials of bias and lying about him.

 

NBC managing director Memafu Kapera told

local journalists that new editorial rules to check political news reports

before going to air were being instituted to ensure balance in reporting,

according to the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF). Kapera denied NBC, the

largest broadcasting organisation in PNG, is being gagged.

 
PFF said in a statement it had no doubt that Masseung’s suspension was

connected to recent political turmoil. The organisation is worried that the

suspension of Masseung, linked to the new edicts on scrutiny of political

reporting, result from political pressures rather than independent efforts to

improve reporting quality.

 

The IFJ supports PFF’s call for PNG’s

Government to allow the national media to do its work without fear or political

pressure.

 

“The IFJ calls on NBC to reinstate Dora

Masseung to her position immediately, and urges the PNG Government to recognise

the role of the PNG Media Council in handling media complaints,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“Public broadcasters must be

independent of political influence and pressure from the Government in order to

fulfill their essential role in upholding robust and accountable democratic

practice.”

 

The IFJ supported PFF’s position

that allegations of imbalance and biased reporting are often an excuse for public

officials to seek to control media organisations and journalists.

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

 

Find the

IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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