PNG ownership 2
Ownership of PNG Media
Foreign ownership dominates the media in PNG. Conglomerates own both the two daily
newspapers and the country‟s only television station.
The Press can trace its origins to 1911 when the first newspaper the Papua Times andTropical Advertiser published for the benefit of the ex-patriate white community. Today,the rationale for newspaper production is still dominated by the needs of ex-pats.The Post-Courier is the oldest daily newspaper in PNG, established in 1969. Allied Press,
a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch‟s News
Corp, holds the majority shareholding. The
National, launched in 1993, is PNG‟s newest daily newspaper and is owned Malaysian
-based Rimbunan Hijau Group, a multinational conglomerate built on timber, plantations,media and IT operations. (Robie, 1994). The National was launched by the then Prime
Minister Paias Wingti and attracted controversy for its foreign ownership and the paper‟sassociation with the major commercial player in PNG‟s timber industry. (Robie, 1995,
p.28).The two daily newspapers are based in the PNG capital, Port Moresby, and share ametropolitan bias. Combined they have a circulation of less than 60,000, serving apopulation of more than 5 million. These newspapers rarely circulate outside of urbanareas so the vast majority of Papua New Guineans are excluded from information. Thenewspapers charge a fifty per cent and thirty per cent surcharge on their cover prices topurchasers outside of the capital to cover the cost of distribution, thereby making thenewspapers unattractive to people with low incomes. PNG media generally privilegesurban dwellers and those with the ability to consume, as generally speaking ruralpopulations are unprofitable markets.In addition, 72 per cent of adults in PNG are illiterate and have no need for newspapers(United Nations Development Program, 1999, p.110). It follows that newspaper readersare likely to be leaders and opinion makers and this gives newspapers an influence in thecountry that far outweighs their circulation penetrations.There is one national weekly newspaper, the Wantok, published in the Tok Pisinlanguage (the lingua franca of PNG) owned by Word Publishing through Media HoldingsLtd. Its shareholders are the mainstream churches in PNG: Catholic, EvangelicalLutheran, Anglican, and Uniting Church. It has an approximate circulation of 10,000.Em-TV, owned by the Nine Network of Australia and the one television station in PNG,generates only a small proportion of its coverage locally. Broadcasting started in 1987(Foster, 1998, p.54) and is available in almost every urban centre in the country with ruraland remote areas serviced by more than 500 privately-owned satellite dishes, but in 2004,17 years after launch, the channel is still not available across the whole country.