A TELEVISION crew from EMTV has been verbally abused and a senior cameraman punched and struck with a 16 kilogram tripod by supporters of Papua New Guinean government minister and member for Moresby South, Justin Tkatchenko.
The mob demanded television footage be deleted and threatened to assault four crew members in an EMTV vehicle on Lawes Road in the national capital.
Journalists Bethanie Harriman and Stanley Ove Jr were collecting generic pictures of election banners around Port Moresby with senior cameraman Konts Kara.
After collecting footage at Gerehu the crew stopped in Moresby South.
On Lawes Road in Konedobu, supporters loyal to Tkatchencko attacked Konts Kara.
Mr Kara was verbally abused by the mob who then threatened to break a camera if the footage wasn’t deleted.
The crowd advanced on the vehicle, banging on the windows, taking the keys off the driver and forcing the cameraman to delete footage of Tkatchencko’s campaign banners.
A senior coordinator of the campaign team accused EMTV of biased reporting and swore at the crew.
Minister Tkatchenko’s campaign coordinator later confirmed the incident and suggested compensating the cameraman who was assaulted.
Elections in PNG have traditionally been considered a time of great risk.
This time around, with a more informed voter population who have strong views on issues of transparency and accountability, it seems there is also an increase in paranoia on the part of intending candidates and sitting MPs.
Media Niugini Limited management maintains that EMTV News remains independent and impartial of political bias.
During events like national elections, the independence and integrity of the media cannot be dictated to or intimidated in any shape or form.
To do so, would mean political suicide for the perpetrator.
* Neville Choi is in his fourth year as Head of News and Current Affairs with EMTV and hosts its popular current affairs magazine program, Tok Piksa