Three senior journalists at PNG government-run radio and television stations have been demoted following critical coverage of the takeover of Ok Tedi mine and payments to a lawyer at the centre of corruption allegations, the Post Courier reports.
Michael Asagoni, Radio News Editor, and Dick Sorariba and Mulai Robby, executive producers of Kundu 2, have been sidelined and told to resume duties in the National Broadcasting Corporation’s archive section. Respected senior journalists Jerry Ginua and Wesley Manuai have also reportedly been summoned and questioned.
The reporters have been accused of biased reporting against the government.
This worrying encroachment on press freedom comes amid wider shakeups for the media industry in PNG. Last week, Australian Associated Press (AAP) newswire announced that they would be closing their Port Moresby bureau after 60 years. While AAP has stated that it will use in-country freelancers and will have staff on standby to enter PNG if big stories break, the move to ‘parachute journalism’ has attracted criticism from media watchers, who are concerned about the impact on credible reporting and understanding of PNG in Australia.
The PNG government is also reported to be poised to shake up the ownership of the country’s media by introducing a new law restricting foreign ownership in the media. The change would affect organisations such as EMTV, The National, Post Courier and several radio stations.