Pacific Media Watch newsdesk
Papua New Guinean television station EMTV did not run its usual 6pm news bulletin last night as its journalists and news production crew in Port Moresby and countrywide walked off the job demanding their suspended head of news and current affairs, Sincha Dimara, be reinstated, reports PNG Post-Courier.
Papua New Guineans were also denied the right to information when the newsroom team walked off with the production of the 6pm news.
The station was forced to replay Tuesday’s news segment instead.
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Dimara was suspended last week by the EMTV management following an internal memo preventing the newsroom from running stories on currently embroiled businessman Jamie Pang.
She was suspended without pay for 21 days on the grounds of alleged insubordination and damaging EMTV’s reputation by running stories that were sympathising with the hotelier who is currently in custody for several serious charges of criminal conduct.
The management in a statement maintained its stand stating that “the leaked internal memo served as a caution for EMTV journalists to be sensitive when conducting interviews and to follow reporting guidelines”.
“The memo did not in any way restrict the journalists’ freedom of press rather the memo was circulated to staff with the view to properly scrutinise the content of the news stories before they were aired that day.”
PNG Media Council condemns suspension
The PNG Media Council, in a statement, condemned the suspension of Dimara and called for her immediate reinstatement, saying that the council saw her suspension solely as an act of intimidation by the interim CEO and management of Media Niugini Limited.
“Media Niugini Limited (MNL) has not learned from its past experiences of sidelining, and even terminating its heads of news, based on political directives,” the council stated.
The president of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), Kora Nou, urged all media organisations in the region to “vigorously defend the editorial independence” of their newsrooms.
Nou said both the management and newsroom executives of all media organisations had their distinct roles to play.
He said he had reached out to the interim chief executive officer of EMTV, Lesieli Vete, to get her side of the story but had not received much feedback.
In a statement released late last night by the newsroom staff, they said their decision to walk off their duties was because the issue could have been handled better by the interim CEO, adding that it was the third such incident involving heads of news.
“This is the third time in a space of five years for an EMTV news manager to be suspended due to external influence,” they stated.
On Wednesday, February 9, 2022, the national EMTV News team wrote a letter to Vete expressing concern over the suspension of Dimara. They met with both EMTV and Telikom managements who explained their decision to suspend Dimara.
“The EMTV Newsroom would like to apologise to our viewers for not bringing you tonight’s news bulletin. We will return when the wrongs have been righted,” the statement said.
Republished with permission from the PNG Post-Courier.