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
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
“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
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.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
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