Is Papua New Guinea planning to limit foreign ownership of its media?


Recent government communications with Fiji Television Ltd, owner of Papua New Guinea’s national television broadcaster EMTV, indicate the PNG Government is considering new laws to restrict foreign ownership of PNG’s media.

Shooting EMTV's 'Business PNG' program. Credit: EMTV

Shooting EMTV’s ‘Business PNG’ program. Credit: EMTV

The new CEO of Fiji Television Ltd, Tevita Gonelevu has revealed that EMTV has been privately informed by government officials of the PNG Government’s intentions. Fiji Television purchased Media Niugini Limited (MNL), EMTV’s parent, from Kerry Packers’s Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd in January 2005.

‘We don’t want to exit from PNG,’ said Gonelevu. ‘We think we have much more value to bring into the PNG media market and we will work closely with our new partners to deliver.

At Fiji Television’s annual general meeting last week, Group Chairman, Padam Lala, indicated that could include a pay TV business, covering all PNG by satellite.

Fiji’s Sun newspaper reports EMTV’s revenue last year was F$19million (K27 million), up from F$16.9m (K24 million) the previous year. Earlier this year, Fijian Holdings Ltd, Fiji’s largest investment fund, acquired a 56.8% share in Fiji Television.

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Law similar to Fiji’s?

EMTV's Bhanu Sud

EMTV’s Bhanu Sud

Gonelevu said a PNG law might be similar to Fiji’s Media Law Decree, which says locals must own a majority shareholding.

It is not yet clear whether any new media law—as yet unseen—would cover just television or would be more broadly applied, nor under what arrangements PNG shareholders would acquire a majority share in any business.

If the government does tighten foreign ownership laws across the board, the other media affected would be:

  • The Post-Courier newspaper (majority-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s New Corp Australia);
  • The National newspaper (owned by Malaysia’s Rimbunan Hijau Group);
  • the radio networks Nau-FM, Yumi-FM, and Legend FM Bikpla 10 (owned by Fiji Communications Ltd)

In the meantime, EMTV’s Chief Executive Officer Bhanu Sud has told Business Advantage PNG that ‘EMTV is not going through any disinvestment activity as yet’, and has contradicted local media reports suggesting the broadcaster’s future was ‘uncertain’.


  1. KPupita says

    Freedom of Media and the right to ownership of Media is the catalyst of democracy in Papua New Guinea. Taking this right away from the People of Papua New Guinea is Anarchy. What is the motive of the Government of the day??? Silencing the voice of the people of PNG to enhance political agenda of a few will lead to downfall of the government that we had faith and hope for change.

    • Peter Pirape Anage says

      Agree with KPupita on some issues raised like that of threat to media freedom and fredom of ownership which are key tenets to democracy. However, my rational demands that offloading some equity in foreign businesses to PNGans is the proper thing to do. PNGans need to participate in whole range of business activites and for the government creating an enabling environment condusive to faciliating partial or wholesale takeover of business appears to be the right thing to do. PNGans need to own and operate business and the time has come.

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