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Concerns about government interfering with state broadcaster resolved

(PFF/IFEX) - An impromptu viewing of raw opposition press conference footage in the offices of the Papua New Guinea prime minister has since been internally resolved, says the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF).

"It is welcome news that initial concerns over the government of Papua New Guinea interfering in the independence of the state broadcaster appear to have been dealt with," states PFF co-chair Monica Miller.

A National Television Service (NTS) camera man apparently responded to a request from an officer on staff to preview footage from an opposition press conference before it was edited or aired, and before the government press conference took place. The subject of the viewing was raised by an opposition MP during a subsequent press conference in early August.

Reports say the NTS camera operator was warned against making the mistake again.

"With one of the region's few functioning media councils and a vibrant media industry, it is critical that the state broadcaster shows clear leadership and transparency when its actions are called into question," Miller says.

"Early reports blaming the prime minister were incorrect. The official may have been guilty simply of over-enthusiasm in attempting to prepare a government response to opposition criticisms over the adjournment of Parliament in 2009," says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea.

"It is important that the largest public broadcaster in the region took the stance that it did, confirming the independence of editorial processes within Kundu TV from state interference, minor or otherwise."

Also known as Kundu 2, the NTS launched in September 2008 with two hours of broadcasting to main centres in PNG. NTS was set up under the National Broadcasting Corporation which has a statutory duty to provide "balanced, objective and impartial broadcasting services."

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