Reporters Without Borders deplores yesterday’s suspension of Dorah Masseung, the executive news director of the country’s main public radio broadcaster, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), as a result of presumed pressure from the authorities amid a political crisis.
Her removal was followed by a directive from the station’s management requiring all reports on political or sensitive matters to be checked by two newly promoted members of the newsroom before being broadcast.
“We call on the NBC management to reinstate Dorah Masseung,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Her sudden removal is symptomatic of political interference in the public media in the Pacific region. It is regrettable that NBC is being subjected to pressure over the content of its news coverage at time when Papua New Guinea is experiencing a major political crisis.”
Reporters Without Borders also urges Michael Somare, who has just stood down temporarily as prime minister to answer charge of concealing his personal finances, to take a public position on Masseung’s suspension and to affirm his commitment to press freedom.
According to the Post-Courier newspaper, NBC managing director Memafu Kapera removed Masseung and carried out other changes in the newsroom following complaints from Somare’s supporters that the station’s coverage of the political situation was too negative. Kapera has denied acting at the government’s request.
Prime Minister Somare has often criticised the press in the past, accusing it of being biased against him.
The Pacific Freedom Forum (www.pacificfreedomforum.org) has condemned Masseung’s dismissal as a violation of the public’s right to independent news coverage.
Papua New Guinea is ranked 43nd out of 178 countries in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.