PNG’s EMTV sacks top journalist, recruits novices as elections loom

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Sacked EMTV news manager Sincha Dimara
Sacked EMTV head of news Sincha Dimara ... “This is an assault not only on workers’ rights but also media freedom in PNG," says MEAA. Image: APR File

RNZ Pacific

Sincha Dimara, the news and current affairs manager at EMTV and one of Papua New Guinea’s most experienced journalists, has been sacked after weeks of being suspended.

Dimara, who was one of the longest serving journalists in PNG and at EMTV for 30 years, was accused of “insubordination” after political pressure from a minister.

It concerned stories EMTV had run about a controversial Australian businessman Jamie Pang operating in PNG who was facing criminal charges.

When she was suspended, 24 other news staff walked off the job in support — they were later sacked.

Leading independent journalist Scott Waide worked alongside Dimara for years and said her main concern was that the other reporters be re-instated because there was important work to do with the elections looming in mid-year.

“She was trying to negotiate the re-instatement of the 24 stafff who were sacked because they stood up,” he said.

Heavy penalty expected
“And she was expecting a termination or something like that heavier penalty after her suspension.

“So she was saying, ‘Even if they sack me that’s fine, but the 24 staff have to go back to work because we have an election to cover in June'”

Pacific Media Watch reports that EMTV is reported to have recruited recent graduates and inexperienced journalists to replace its core team, which was one of the most experienced newsrooms in Papua New Guinea.

The suspensions have been widely condemned by the PNG Media Council, Brussels-based International Journalists Federation, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, Media Alliance (MEAA), Pacific Freedom Forum and Pacific Media Watch.

RSF called it “unacceptable political meddling”.

Some media critics have expressed concern about a foreign CEO at the network axing virtually an entire newsroom. They say the country’s leading television channel has lost credibility as a result.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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