EMTV’s head of news Neville Choi reports on the assault on the television crew — see item at 4min01sec. Video: EMTV News
Pacific Media Watch News Desk
The Media Council of Papua New Guinea today condemned the “unacceptable … harassment and violence” targeting media workers covering the country’s 2017 general election campaign.
An EMTV camera crew was “harassed and assaulted” last Thursday in the Moresby South electorate in the National Capital District of Port Moresby and was covered by the television network.
The MCPNG said in a statement the harassment and violence on May 11 was “unacceptable and unwarranted”.
The media had an important role to play in the dissemination of information and awareness about the 3331 candidates contesting the 89 open electorates and 22 provincial seats, said council president Alexander Rheeney.
“Papua New Guinea’s 4 million-plus eligible voters are depending on the media for critical information on the 2017 general election, the candidates as well as political parties and their policies,” he said.
“The media should be allowed to report without fear or favour in this general election as they have in previous elections.
“The incident last Thursday involving an EMTV camera crew and the supporters of a particular candidate is unacceptable,” Rhenney said
“All candidates should accept responsibility for the conduct of their supporters so any unruly behaviour should and will be reported to the appropriate authorities.”
Rhenney said the media industry remained united and vigilant in striving to inform and educate the public. He called on candidates or supporters who “had issues” with the media to take their complaints to the MCPNG.
EMTV reports that its crew was verbally assaulted and a senior cameraman punched and hit in the back with a 16 kg tripod by supporters of sitting Moresby South Member of Parliament Justin Tkatchenko.
“The mob demanded footage[to be] deleted and threatened to assault four crew members in an EMTV vehicle on Lawes road,” EMTV reports.
Journalists Bethanie Harriman and Stanley Ove Jr were collecting generic pictures of election banners around Port Moresby with senior cameraman Konts Kara when the assault happened.
After collecting pictures at Gerehu, the crew stopped in Moresby South.
On Lawes Road in Konedobu, supporters loyal to sitting MP Justin Tkatchencko attacked senior cameraman Kara.
Threatened over footage
“Mr Kara was verbally assaulted by the mob who then threatened to break a camera if the footage wasn’t deleted,” EMTV reports.
“The crowd advanced on the company vehicle banging on the windows, taking the keys off the driver, and forcing the cameraman to delete footage of the sitting MP’s campaign banners.
“A senior coordinator of the minister’s campaigning team accused EMTV of being biased in reports while swearing at the crew.”
Tkatchenko’s first secretary Keith Puairia was contacted by journalist Harriman and Puairia contacted the campaign coordinator, confirming the incident.
Elections in Papua New Guinea have traditionally been considered a time of great risk.
Media Niugini Limited management made a statement saying that EMTV News remained independent and impartial.