PFF, Rarotonga, Cook Islands--Government officials responsible for the sudden suspension of senior news editor Dorah Masseung from her management position in the Papua New Guinea national broadcasting corporation must let the national media do its work without fear or political pressure.
Masseung, the Executive News Director for NBC, was 'relieved' of her duties on Tuesday 14 December after officials alleged NBC had been 'biased in its reporting on current political activities'. She was sent home on full pay. All political stories will now be 'checked' before going to air, with NBC Managing director Memafu Kapera telling local journalists this was to ensure balance in reporting. He has also denied a gag is in place for NBC, the largest broadcast organisation covering Papua New Guinea's 6 million-plus population.
"There is little doubt that the media attention to the leadership issues facing Prime Minister Somare, and his recent commentary against the media, has led to the current backlash against the state broadcaster. As a journalist in management, Masseung is merely a scapegoat for this misdirected anger," says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea.
"PFF calls on the incoming prime minister to treat political interference in the public right to know as an urgent constitutional matter and make sure that the editor is reinstated."
Masseung is a longtime journalist with the National Broadcasting Corporation. She was with the organisation in the days before independence, when the former NBC was little more than an information arm supported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"We also strongly urge media and officials to step up public awareness of the role of the PNG Media Council as a key point of contact on media complaints," says Laumaea.
Without a clear and open complaints process, allegations of imbalance and biased reporting are often just an excuse for officials to bully and control the media, especially government-owned media says PFF co-chair Monica Miller.
"To go straight from complaints being received to sending key people home and controlling editorial news values is clearly robbing the people of Papua New Guinea of their right to being fully and accurately informed on the issues of the day."
"We stand in support of the commitment to professional standards of media reportage by our PNG media colleagues, and condemn this breach of human rights for Ms Masseung, her news colleagues, and NBC's audience."--ENDS
CONTACT: PFF interim Chair Susuve Laumaea | Sunday Chronicle Newspaper | Papua New Guinea Mobile: 675-684 5168 | Office: 675-321-7040 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org PFF interim co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.