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Calls for additional media controls in PNG are very disturbing


PNG-media%20censorship2IN RECENT DAYS there have been two interesting - nay disturbing - moves in the relationship between the Papua New Guinea government and the media.

First, our old friend Belden Namah has said he is boycotting traditional media briefings in favour of social media because he doesn't think the mainstream media is giving him a fair go.

Well maybe that's his choice, but I don't think social media will give him the same reach as radio and television in PNG if he solely relies on the 100,000 or so people who actively participate in social media compared to the few million that watch TV and listen to radio.

The second more disturbing development have been statements by PNG politicians that they want to start censoring the media - TV, radio, newspapers and social media.

Education and Finance Minister James Marape has suggested that internet service providers be regulated and that operators of social media networks be clearly identified on sites so that they are subjected to the country’s defamation laws.

Members of Parliament last week aired views sympathetic to this notion while contributing to a debate on a statement by Communication Minister Jimmy Miringtoro on Tuesday about the need for legislation to regulate the media.

Community Development Minister Loujaya Toni said freedom of information and speech must be regulated to control internet bullying and defamatory remarks by unknown and nameless people.

“The Facebook is on me, describing me, the clothes I wear and how I act. They are abusing it and it needs to be regulated. We need to guide legislations on the Privacy Act,” Ms Toni said.

Minister for Civil Aviation Stevens Davis said freedom of speech and freedom of expression as stipulated in the Constitution were not absolute rights.

National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop agreed and said the media should be regulated considering the implications of their content on individuals and institutions.

I find all this disturbing. Sure laws of defamation should be enforced where necessary, but proposing widespread censorship to protect the finer feelings of politicians seems to be going too far.


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Maureen Wari

Yes Peter, PC PNG has a new face and a 3 month free read after sign-up before... is it pay to read?
Cairns Post, Washington Post, Fiji Sun, Solomon Star - free.
Could these be our last days of post courier online as we've always known, or just some steps ahead into limited info to PNGns within and abroad? My best guess is it probably is the high Internet costs in Port Moresby.
Why? Post Courier, enlighten us.

Steve W Labuan

Strictly regulating public internet use from abuse is probably the first step for the government's intention to regulate foreign spies as well.

If the government sees good reasons in its wisdom regarding media irresponsibility, then why not go ahead and regulate.

It seems everybody and every group in PNG needs some form of regulation in order to reduce corruption. Not a bad idea to regulate each other.

Peter Kranz

The Post-Courier seems to have gone behind a paywall with it's new website design.

You have to sign up for 3 months free membership to read stories. Presumably beyond that you will have to pay.

I'm not sure this is how to win friends and influence people in PNG, or does this only apply to overseas viewers?

Robin Lillicrapp

Some may think it a long bow to draw but in view of recent reports about Trans Pacific Partnership (secret negotiations) talks, in which items regarding "limiting media expression" are prominent, I don't think it a long stretch at all to conclude there is something afoot in PNG lately.

APEC participants have a vested interest in outcomes afforded by TPP negotiations as they preview future participation in resulting Free Trade Agreements.

The decided ambivalence to "Free Speech" as heralded in Peter's article is reflective of a global mood toward same.

As the pace picks up toward stitching a seamless global garment, is it any wonder that "States Rights" as per constitutional premise is constantly seen to be flouted by deeds and actions arising in regard to land rights, SABL's etc.

Here's a link to an interesting June 2013 report regarding the state of play concerning TPP involvement of nations.

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