Freedom of the Press
Papua New Guinea
Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The relatively vibrant media environment worsened this year owing primarily to new government restrictions on reporters. Media freedom is guaranteed under the constitution adopted at independence in 1975 and the Papua New Guinea Media Council (PNGMC) is a strong lobby group in support of news organizations and professional standards. However, at times the news media clash with the government when defending freedom of the press. In August 2006, the government imposed restrictions on journalists covering a state of emergency in the Southern Highlands province. Among these restrictions was the introduction of a permit system for journalists wishing to travel to the mountainous province, which has been troubled by prolonged tribal warfare. Acting Information and Communications Minister Patrick Pruaitch justified the new requirements as a way to ensure “positive reporting” by local and international media. The media saw the requirements as an attempt to control negative reporting that may reflect poorly on the government, and PNGMC president Peter Aitsi called for the restrictions to be lifted. Despite these restrictions, no journalists were attacked for their reporting in 2006.
Both daily newspapers are foreign owned but provide contrasting viewpoints. The PNG Post-Courier, founded in 1969, is owned by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and the rival National is owned by a prominent Malaysian logging company with a major timber and investment stake in the country. Papua New Guinea’s only television station, EM TV, is owned by Fiji Television Ltd. The state-run National Broadcasting Corporation is also a significant media company, and the major commercial radio network is run by partly Fiji-owned PNG FM Pty. Ltd., operating Nau FM and Yumi FM. The internet is unrestricted by the government but is accessible to less than 5 percent of the population.