PNG: Politicians condemn media ‘bias’, seek review of state-run TV funding
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
AUCKLAND (Pacific Scoop / Pacific Media Watch): A leading parliamentarian in Papua New Guinea wants the government to review funding to the state-owned NBC Kundu 2 television station.
Governor Powes Parkop of the National Capital District was reported by The National as saying this during question time in Parliament yesterday when accusing the media of bias, giving more air time to government critics than government MPs.
This accusation by a serving politician comes at a time when countries around the world – including Papua New Guinea – observe the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day this Thursday.
This makes it timely for the media and government in the country to come together and find ways forward to strengthen the work of the media instead of “finger pointing”.
According to The National, Parkop said Kundu 2 was “government-funded and should give balanced time and balanced views of both government and critics,” he said.
This accusation was levelled against the media when PNG Trade Union general secretary John Paska was reportedly given 10 to 20 minutes on air on Fiji-owned EMTV and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill got only two minutes.
The accusation by Parkop is among others, including one from police in Madang where Provincial Police Commander Anthony Wagambi Jnr summoned Madang-based journalists to a meeting to highlight claims of unfair and incorrect reporting last week.
Parkop also asked: “Are we going to maintain this station?
“If we cannot sustain the TV station, can the National Executive Council make a decision to privatise it or enter into a joint-venture arrangement?”
The issues here appeared to be not sustainability of the media outlet but how the government could control the television station through funding and restrict media freedom and the public right to information.
Another parliamentarian and member for Wewak, Dr Moses Manwau, said there must also be scrutiny of the daily newspapers.
According to The National, the MP said: “Newspapers too are biased. They must show some impartiality. What do you do with a newspaper like The National? They seem to be biased.”
A government that has been dishing out so much money for projects unheard of all over the country now seems not to have funds to maintain a very important institution that has the potential to deliver much needed information services.
According to The National, Minister for Communication and Information Jim Miringtoro had written to various media outlets expressing the need to have balanced reporting.
Miringtoro was reported to have said he had spoken to the management of The National but the government could not control the media, adding that he had asked the media to exercise some sense of responsibility.
Henry Yamo is a postgraduate journalist from Papua New Guinea on the Master of Communication Studies programme at the Auckland University of Technology.
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