Freedom of the Press
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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 improved slightly in 2007 with the lifting of a state of emergency in the Southern Highlands province in August. 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 have come under pressure from the government. Tensions between the coalition government of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and the media peaked in August when news organizations challenged attempts by the administration to bar coverage of a report by the Defense Force board of inquiry. The report implicated Somare in the escape of lawyer Julian Moti from Australian extradition proceedings in October 2006 and included recommendations that the prime minister be investigated as well as allegations of corruption. The PNGMC is active, with a well-developed code of ethics and a complaints commission. Council president Oseah Philemon praised the country’s media for their efforts at defending media freedom during 2007. Nevertheless, in October, the government announced plans to revise the 1994 National Information and Communication Policy, which governs the media industry and publishing houses, raising concerns that such a review might result in more limited press freedom.
Physical violence against journalists in Papua New Guinea remains uncommon. Nevertheless, according to the International Press Institute, in May 2007, a female reporter for the Post Courier newspaper was attacked in her home in the capital and threatened at gunpoint, possibly in connection with a series of articles on government corruption.
Two foreign-owned but opposing daily newspapers dominate the country’s media. 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 major investments in the country. Papua New Guinea’s only television station, EM TV, is owned by Fiji Television Ltd., but the country is moving to establish its own state-run television channel. The state-run National Broadcasting Corporation operates two radio stations—Karai National Radio and Kundu Radio Services. Also broadcasting in the country are two private stations, Nau FM and Yumi FM, which are controlled by the partly Fiji-owned PNG FM Pty. Ltd. The internet is unrestricted by the government but is accessible to barely 5 percent of the population.