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MEDIA INQUIRY URGED AFTER GOVERNMENT PRESSURES JOURNALISTS

In what appears to be a worsening trend, the Media Council of Papua New Guinea has been urged to launch an investigation into a recent spate of incidents in which journalists have been pressured by the government to avoid politically sensitive stories. Former newspaper editor Franzalbert Joku issued the call recently after the state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) suspended news director Joe Ealadona for political reasons, according to the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

In a letter addressed to Ealadona, NBC managing director Kristoffa Ninkama accuses him of “threatening national security” by airing news reports on soldiers’ protests against the government’s plans to scale back the armed forces. Ninkama also criticizes Ealadona for airing programmes about student protests at the University of Papua Guinea, as well as a live broadcast of the new Labour Party’s official launch, according to PINA. In an interview with PINA Nius Online, Ealadona says the suspension is “political and [has] nothing to do with his professional career as a journalist.”

Word Publishing editor-in-chief and publisher Anna Solomon has also faced intense scrutiny from government officials. According to Joku, senior aides have pressuring the Catholic Bishops Conference to fire the newspaper publisher for printing stories which expose the government’s allegedly shoddy treatment of refugees from Irian Jaya. For more information, see www.pinanius.org">http://www.pinanius.org">www.pinanius.org

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