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EMTV in turmoil after news chief sidelined

The empty EMTV newsroom last night (APN)
The empty EMTV newsroom last night (APN)

| Pacific Media Watch | Edited extracts

AUCKLAND - The national news team of Papua New Guinea’s major television channel, EMTV, walked out last night in protest over a decision earlier this month to suspend the head of news, Sincha Dimara, for alleged insubordination.

The news team condemned the “endless intimidation” which has led to the suspension or sacking of three news managers in the past five years.

The team vowed not to return until the “wrongs have been righted” by EMTV management.

They want EMTV to reinstate Dimara, a journalist of 30 years’ experience, and acting CEO Lesieli Vete to be “sidelined and investigated for putting EMTV News into disrepute”.

In a statement signed by ‘Newsroom 2022’, the team apologised to viewers for not broadcasting last night’s news bulletin.

“With all that has happened in the last eight days, the EMTV news team has decided to walk off producing EMTV News,” the statement said.

“We, therefore demand that Ms Dimara be reinstated and for interim CEO Lesieli Vete to be sidelined and investigated for putting EMTV News into disrepute.

“We no longer have confidence in her leadership.

The controversy arose over a series of news stories on court cases involving Australian businessman Jamie Pang.

According to a statement of 7 February, “a fraction of the EMTV News team was verbally notified of a decision made by EMTV management to suspend EMTV’s head of news and current affairs, Sincha Dimara for a 21-day period”.

The statement said the decision had been based on “purported insubordination over a series of news stories relating to Jamie Pang and his associates, and damaging the reputation of EMTV” because of “negative comments from the public on the airing of Jamie Pang’s stories”.

In 2018, Scott Waide was the first manager suspended over a story aired during the 2018 APEC meeting.

Neville Choi was terminated in August 2019, also on grounds of ‘insubordination’.

And now Sincha Dimara has been placed in a similar situation.

Immediately after her suspension, the news team wrote a letter to Vete expressing concern.

Vete queried the letter demanding to know which staff members were involved.

The entire news team then expressed their concern in another letter with signatures from all individual members to support the call to reinstate Dimara.

“We are certain that the manner and approach taken by the interim CEO over the suspension of Ms Dimara is not right,” the letter said.

“We consider the grounds of suspension to be shallow, contradictory and irrelevant.

“The news team strongly believes that the stories that ran on the nightly news relating to Jamie Pang were unbiased and reported with facts and did not impede on any of the current laws nor did not implicate anyone.”

On Thursday, 10 February 2022, the management team, acting CEO of Telikom – the owners of EMTV’s parent company Media Niugini Limited (MNL)  — and few senior officers met with the news team and explained their decision to suspend Dimara.

The EMTV management team then initiated an investigation into the situation to determine what went wrong. That investigation is still continuing.

In the letter sent to Telikom acting CEO, Amos Tepi, and copied in the chairman of Telikom, Johnson Pundari, the news team wrote, “The decision to suspend Dimara is wrong as it breaches the Media Code of Ethics which is to report without fear or favour.”

The team also said it was standing up against continuous intimidation from the interim CEO.

There was no immediate public response from EMTV management to the news team’s walkout last night.

The Media Council of PNG has condemned Dimara’s suspension, describing the move as a “dangerous precedent in an election year”.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders also condemned “unacceptable political meddling” and calling for immediate reinstatement of Sincha Dimara.


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Lindsay F Bond

Dimara's grim on Duma buys Duma's dump of Dimara
draws Scott Waide's wind up and Nev Choi's churn up,
with who's to know what's to and fro. Stilling Dimara
vets Vete's deliberate ditching, verily damned by Daniel,
and Media Council of PNG describing as “dangerous
[a] precedent in an election year”, a decision needing
review. Decidedly dumb of interim CEO, dumbing news.

Dear readers,
This dramatized dig at a dastardly dumping was for item
(16 February 2022) that is increasingly drawn out, divisive
and lacking transparency duly essential for democracy.
No fun intended. Damnable dwindling deed, as folk say.

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