Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea 3997
Photo by: Tyler Olson

Papua New Guinea

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Papua New Guinea
Region (Map name): Oceania
Population: 5,049,055
Language(s): English, Pidgin English widespread, Motu spoken in Papua region
Literacy rate: 72.2%
Area: 462,840 sq km
GDP: 3,818 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 3

Papua New Guinea

Number of Television Sets: 42,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 8.3
Number of Radio Stations: 55
Number of Radio Receivers: 410,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 81.2
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 135,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 26.7

Background & General Characteristics

The independent state of Papua New Guinea enjoys some of the Pacific region's liveliest media coverage. Though its two daily newspapers are foreign owned, the private press reports vigorously on corruption and political issues.

Comprising the eastern half of the Pacific's largest noncontinental island and over 600 smaller islands, Papua New Guinea is located some 93 miles north of Australia. Its citizens are predominantly Melanesians and Papuan with some Negrito, Micronesians, and Polynesians. Official languages are English, Tok Pisin (the widely spoken Melanesian Pidgin), and Hiri Motu, but 867 indigenous languages are spoken among 1,000 tribes throughout the country. Interaction between regions has been largely restricted due to the topography of the land and the diversity of the languages. Its government is a federal parliamentary system, with periodic free and fair elections, and an independent judiciary.

Europeans first sighted Papua New Guinea in 1512. The country was divided between the Dutch, Germans, and British towards the end of the nineteenth century. In 1905 Australia took over the British sector naming it "the territory of Papua" and then captured the German sector during World War I. A member of the British Commonwealth, the country became fully independent in 1975.

Since independence Papua New Guinea has enjoyed strong media growth. In 1975 Papua New Guinea's major media consisted of one daily newspaper and one radio network. There was no television, and universities did not offer journalism training. By 2002, the region boasted two competing daily newspapers, a weekly English language newspaper, a television station, multiple radio stations, cable and satellite service, two university journalism programs, and several independent Web sites devoted to news and media analysis.

The nation's two daily newspapers, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (circulation 33,500) and The National (circulation 23,500), are both in English, with 15 copies per 1,000 people. The two weeklies, Wantok Niuspepa (published in Tok Pisin) and The Independent (English-language), have an aggregate circulation of 24,000. Of these four papers, all but Wantok Niuspepa also publish on the Internet. They compete aggressively in Port Moresby, but have limited circulation in other urban areas. Another English-language newspaper, the biweekly Eastern Star , is published in the city of Alotau, while the monthly, Hiri Nius , prints government news in all three official languages, with a circulation of 5,000. Newspaper circulation has increased steadily. In 1982 aggregate daily newspaper circulation was 39,000; by 1997 it had increased by 53 percent to 60,000. But the number of major daily newspapers has not increased since 1980.

In addition to Christian and national radio networks, the National Broadcasting Corporation has three networks: the Karai Service (English), Kalang FM, and the Kundu Service, which includes 19 provincial stations. The latter broadcast in an array of languages spoken in their respective regions. Some 650 of these languages have been identified, yet only 200 are related, and all are grammatically complex. A few hundred to a few thousand people speak each language. One native language, Enga, is spoken by some 130,000 people, and Melanesian Pidgin serves as the lingua franca.

The PNG FM company includes two commercial stations Nau FM (English) and Yumi FM (Tok Pisin). In 2000 a Motu-language station, FM Central, was launched. Listeners also receive Radio Australia's Papua New Guinea service broadcasts in Tok Pisin. There are two cable services with access to overseas channels and one local television station. Satellite broadcasting had become available by 2000.

The nature of media coverage in Papua New Guinea is strongly linked to the isolation of many of its peoples. The country's population is divided; some 85 percent live in remote villages, retaining ancient cultures and tongues, with little contact with the modern world. Few publications or televisions signals reach its rugged interior, where a multiplicity of tribal languages fragments communication. In addition to the absence of a common language, Papua New Guinea's literacy rate complicates the country's publishing climate; some 50 percent of its citizens cannot read and own no books aside from a Bible or hymnal. At the same time a literate, cosmopolitan culture of Australian expatriates bustles in the capital city of Port Moresby, where nearly all major print media are published. In a nation of geographically disparate peoples the majority of New Guineans count on radio as their primary news source rather than television, print, or online media.

The limited influence of Papua New Guinea's print media as a tool of political discourse was demonstrated during the pre-independence 1964 elections. Although the Australian government donated thousands of pamphlets and hundreds of tape recorders, loudspeakers, drawings, projectors, filmstrips, and flipcharts to local candidates, these materials went largely unused. Political advertising of election coverage and controversial correspondence were absent; not one candidate accepted a newspaper's offer of free publicity.

Most print publications in Papua New Guinea represent expatriates and the military, rather than natives. In 1888 its first newspapers represented white settlers, with the four-page weekly Torres Straits Pilot and New Guinea Gazette , as well as papers launched in 1917 and 1925. When the nation's three commercial newspapers ceased publication during World War II, mimeographed weekly news sheets appeared. Two tabloids appeared after World War II: The South Pacific Post reported Australian and overseas news from its offices in Port Moresby from 1951, followed by the New Guinea Times in 1959, published in the city of Lae. The two papers merged into the Post-Courier in 1969.

Newspapers targeting natives have been published irregularly. In 1962 the South Pacific Post launched the free, weekly Nu Gini Toktok published in Pidgin English with a special writing style explaining every word longer than two syllables. The paper specialized in self-help, health, housing, market reports on current prices for copra (dried coconut meat from which coconut oil is derived) and cocoa, comics, and radio listings; stories and photos were solicited from readers.

Nu Gini Toktok carried little international news except for stories about the United Nations or the South Pacific Commission, both of which have responsibilities in Papua New Guinea. Many stories were translations of Australian news inappropriate for the target audience; inconsistencies between readership and management ultimately killed the paper. Nu Gini Toktok's circulation never exceeded 4,000, and it closed in 1970. The church-owned secularly oriented Wantok , whose circulation of 10,000 includes distribution to all primary schools, replaced it.

Since Papua New Guinea's independence in 1975, several provinces have started their own newspapers. Niugini News , now closed, was started in 1979 and provided national and Australian news in simple English. Produced in Lae and distributed nationwide, Niugini News filled a gap for print media in some remote areas. Wantok Publications branched out to a more urban, educated audience with its 1980 acquisition of The Times of Papua New Guinea . This, plus the launch of the regional Arawa Bulletin , signaled a trend toward more local reporting.

In the twenty-first century Papua New Guinea's Post-Courier targets both native and expatriate populations. It features short articles, large sensational headlines, and an abundance of images to compensate for factors of illiteracy and lack of a common language. In 2002 front page news included Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, palm oil pricing, and a measles outbreak, while letters to the editor included an open letter to politically active clergy, a thank-you note to an honest newspaper salesman, and subjects ranging from local food banks to vote-counting debates.

As political parties evolved in Papua New Guinea, so did party newspapers. Pangu Nius was launched in 1970 as a monthly in English and Pidgin; the United Party also published a trilingual paper. Both had little success attracting advertisers. In addition to political papers nine church missions publish newspapers, some in three languages.

With the country's largest circulation, the Post-Courier is Papua New Guinea's most influential publication, followed by The Independent , which is distributed to a remote audience the urban Post Courier does not reach. The third most influential newspaper is Wantok , which serves the populace who speak Pidgin.

Australian media chains, religious organizations, cultural groups, or the government's Office of Information operate print publications in Papua New Guinea. For example, an Australian media conglomerate owns the Post-Courier . Papua New Guinea's Summer Institute of Linguistics publishes education materials in local languages, often developing a periodical geared toward interests of each individual region. In addition, religious denominations in Papua New Guinea operate their own publishing houses.

Economic Framework

Since indigenous peoples settled Papua New Guinea some 50,000 years ago, its population has relied on agriculture for subsistence. In the twenty-first century agriculture accounts for 25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and supports more than 80 percent of the population. Generating a GDP of US $10.7 billion in 1996, Papua New Guinea's workforce numbers 1.941 million. Cash crops include coffee, oil, cocoa, copra, tea, rubber, and sugar. The timber industry was not active in 1998, due to low world prices, but rebounded in 1999. About 40 percent of the country is covered with trees, and a domestic woodworking industry has been slow to develop. Top industries are coconut oil, plywood, wood chips, gold, and silver— the country is rich in copper, gold, silver, and natural gas. Its annual $2.7 billion exports include gold, copper, coffee, palm oil, copra, timber, lobster, while the country imports $1.3 billion in food, machinery, transport equipment, fuels, chemicals, and consumer goods. Papua New Guinea's major trading partners are Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, the United States, South Korea, and Germany.

Manufacturing is limited, making up 9 percent of the GDP. Small industries produce beer, soap, concrete products, clothing, paper products, matches, ice cream, canned meat, fruit juices, furniture, plywood, and paint. U.S. companies are developing Papua New Guinea's mining and petroleum sectors; an American-financed oil refinery project estimated to produce 30,000-40,000 barrels-per-day is under development in Port Moresby.

Papua New Guinea joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in 1993 and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1996. Australia is the largest aid donor to Papua New Guinea, offering about $200 million per year in assistance. It is followed by Japan, the European Union, the People's Republic of China, the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. International volunteers provide education, health, and development assistance throughout the country.

By 1999 Papua New Guinea's economy was troubled, as its foreign currency earnings suffered from low world mineral and petroleum prices. The resulting foreign exchange earnings—in tandem with government mismanagement—caused the currency (the kina) to plummet. Economic activity decreased in most sectors; imports of all kinds shrank, and inflation, which had been over 21 percent in 1998, slowed to an estimated annual rate of 8 percent in 1999. Papua New Guinea received emergency assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Nearly all major media outlets in Papua New Guinea are foreign owned. Although the country enjoys a free press, critics fear the media could become a tool to influence popular support in favor of foreign investment.

The largest-circulation South Pacific daily, the Australian-owned Post-Courier , lists Rupert Murdoch's News, Ltd. as its majority shareholder, though private Papua New Guinea investors own one-third. Its coverage of Papua New Guinea and international news, sports, and business is published Monday through Friday and uses Australian Associated Press (AAP) news feed. The Post-Courier's circulation reached a peak of 41,000 in 1994, but it dropped after a rival daily newspaper, the Malaysian-owned National , was launched. Since 1998 the Post-Courier began publishing two magazines targeting the high-income sector; the weekly, general-interest Papua New Guinea (PNG) Magazine and Newagewoman , a monthly women's magazine mixing fashion with serious issues of domestic violence and sexual health. The Post-Courier also publishes the region's first Braille newspaper, The South Pacific Braille News , with an initial circulation of 400 upon its 2002 launch.

The Post-Courier's competing daily, The National , is owned by a Malaysian logging concern. It publishes little on the controversial subjects of logging and forestry, but is generally independent and unbiased on other issues. The first Pacific region daily to publish an online edition (1996), The National uses wire from Agence France-Presse. Both newspapers have shied away from using a six-day week publishing formula because of doubt that there is sufficient weekend market.

The weekly Independent is a product of the church-owned Word Publishing Co., which also prints the monthly PNG Business and the weekly, Tok-Pisin-language Wantok Niuspepa , with a circulation of 15,000. The Independent replaced The Times of Papua New Guinea in 1995. The government-owned monthly newspaper Hiri Nius had suspended publication in 2002.

Signals from the independently owned television broadcasting company, EM-TV, do not reach far outside Port Moresby. The government-owned National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) owns two radio networks that potentially could reach the entire country, but the networks are limited by poor funding and outdated equipment. A privately owned radio network in Port Moresby, NAU-FM, is expanding into other areas of the country.

Press Laws

The Papua New Guinean Constitution provides for free speech, including freedom of the media, and the government generally respects this freedom in practice. Specific acts of Parliament regarding defamation, commercial advertising, court evidence, and personal correspondence narrow the constitutional press freedom somewhat, while the Printers and Newspapers Act requires printer's and publisher's names to appear in the newspaper. The law neither authorizes nor restricts press freedom, but it does support circulation of the news. This is achieved through directives regarding all citizens' rights to participate in national development and the inclusion of native culture in this process.

The media provides independent coverage and analysis of major controversies, including the legal problems of government and opposition politicians. Since freedom of expression includes citizens and non-citizens relaying ideas, opinions, and information and refuting false statements through the press, an act of Parliament may enable access to mass media.

In 1994 Parliament approved the National Policy on Information and Communication of Papua New Guinea (NPIC). The comprehensive document regulates traditional media and new technology, including satellite broadcasting, information technology, cable television, print media, audiovisual media, advertising, and a code of ethics.


Papua New Guinea's Customs Act prohibits the importation of printed matter, film, or slides considered blasphemous, obscene, depraved, or containing contents including sex, violence, or crime. The courts occasionally tried citizens and foreigners under provisions of the Censorship Act banning the import, broadcast, or publication of materials deemed pornographic according to Papua New Guinea's Censorship Code. The usual sentence for violations is confiscation and destruction of restricted goods, although the courts can legally impose a fine of US $17 or more, or a prison sentence of up to 2 years. Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines were banned in 1995 for indecency in several of their issues.

Radio broadcast operators are required to maintain a high standard of programming. In this regard, radio programs that are morally acceptable to Papua New Guinean audiences are approved, with special attention paid to children's programs. Additionally, all programs must conform to the standards laid down and specified in the 1989 Censorship Act and administered by the Censorship Board of Papua New Guinea.

State-Press Relations

The government has been acutely sensitive to media criticism on several occasions. In 1997 the prime minister attacked as "totally unfounded" and "damaging to the country" a media report—later confirmed—relating to strained meetings between a World Bank team and the government. The prime minister has tried to block journalists from reporting on Parliament. The forestry minister admitted to an unsuccessful attempt in September to convince EM-TV management to stop showing a documentary while it was being broadcast, saying the program was not in the people's interest. Such government sensitivities have apparently affected reporting. The editor of a Port Moresby newspaper has stated publicly that the media have deliberately chosen not to report on certain areas that would be open subjects in Western societies, such as the private lives of political leaders and allegations of corruption.

Foreign-owned news media rather than government are the greater threat to content diversity in the Papua New Guinea press. Both daily newspapers are foreign owned, as is the only television channel. There are three government-owned radio stations and one private locally owned radio outlet. The private press, including weeklies and monthlies, vigorously reports on corruption and other sensitive matters. The state-run radio news is generally balanced.

According to the Information Services Review Committee, a developing country's communications should be given top priority. In Papua New Guinea the Office of Information operates under the prime minister's department but is responsible to the minister of the media. The Office of Information has five divisions. The Information Division provides national and provincial government news, national and overseas publicity, government public relations, and technical assistance to departments using mass media. The Government Liaison Division implements and evaluates national communication projects. The Policy Secretariat Division formulates national communication policy. There is also a Division of Management Services Staff Development and Training. The Production Division is the largest of the five divisions. It designs artwork for publications and has the capacity to translate materials into two native languages. The division produces films and video, and publishes print materials including a free trilingual national government newspaper.

Government intervention with the commercial media started in 1942, when the Australian army closed one newspaper on censorship grounds. After World War II, native riots and other events underscored the need for improved communications between the government and people.

In 1997 the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), a parliamentary body, began a review of ways to make the media "more accountable" and to ensure that persons "aggrieved by media abuses have accessible redress." However, media and general public representatives reacted strongly, viewing the CRC effort as an attempt to control the media. The CRC initially reported that no new restrictions needed to be enacted and recommended instead that an independent media commission be established charged with self-regulation, an approach that the media representatives supported. However, media representatives again became concerned when the CRC chairman stated in October that the CRC had been directed to draft legislation to make the media more accountable and to establish an independent body, in addition to the media commission, that would look into complaints against the media.

The resulting Media Council is composed of representatives from most of Port Moresby's media outlets. One of its tasks is to regulate the media practice, and receive complaints and concerns raised by the public including the government and any person concerned with the media. Its mission is to develop media professionalism and to ensure Papuan New Guineans are protected by a responsible, active, free media.

Papua New Guinea's Media Council has created a Code of Ethics constructed to maintain public trust, retain their freedom of speech, freedom of press, and do nothing that will erode the credibility of their news media. It covers such issues as accuracy and balance, conflict of interest, privacy, children and juveniles, taste and decency, victims of sexual offenses, purchase of information, subterfuge and misinformation. The British High Commission in Port Moresby also funded a complaints tribunal.

Still, clashes between government and press occur. In 2001 students at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby conducted a sit-in outside government offices to protest the privatization of public utilities and foreign influence over the country's economic policies. After five days, police broke up the peaceful demonstrations by opening fire and killing four protesters. An EM-TV film crew was threatened during the violence, and their car was set on fire. Two Post-Courier reporters were also punched and kicked by protesters while reporting at a hospital. The same year the director of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was fired soon after the prime minister accused NBC of acting irresponsibly in airing "incorrect and inflammatory statements" about the military standoff. Despite his termination, the director told the daily National that "The government does not control [NBC's] program and editorial output despite its 100 percent ownership. It is the people's radio and it must remain that way." Later that year NBC suspended a news director over his coverage of the military and student protests, saying his broadcasts "threatened national security."

At the end of 2001, the government granted autonomy to the island of Bougainville, ending the province's 10-year struggle for independence, which killed some 20,000 people and has been called the bloodiest conflict in the Pacific since World War II. As part of the peace deal Bougainville is receiving funding to establish and develop local media, currently limited to one radio station broadcasting from Radio Australia.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

Business travel to Papua New Guinea requires a passport valid for one year past entry, a business visa, and proof of an AIDS test to enter the country; and a journalist's visa for the members of the media.

Travel outside of Port Moresby and other major towns at night can be hazardous, as criminals set up roadblocks. In addition, travel to isolated places in Papua New Guinea is possible primarily by small passenger-aircraft to the many small airstrips scattered throughout the country, as roads are scarce.

Once in Papua New Guinea, foreign journalists have access to telephone, Internet, and telegraph services. These improved communications networks have dramatically increased the ease of foreign press operations and consequently international press coverage of Papua New Guinea. For example, only 21 articles appeared on Papua New Guinea in the New York Times from 1974 to 1978. But in another four-year period, from 1997 to 2001, the New York Times printed 165 stories on the country. In addition, international access to newspaper and other media Web sites located in Papua New Guinea has increased worldwide understanding and knowledge of the region.

Foreign correspondents in Papua New Guinea enjoy a fairly privileged position, with access to key governmental players. Journalism in the Pacific region operates under many pressures, and governments can very effectively limit the scope of local media organizations. Pressure can be applied, funding can be restricted, and individuals can be made to feel threatened. The resident foreign correspondent usually operates beyond the reach of those limits. In addition, local media often lack funding and resources; the work involved in delivering a major story is too much of a drain on the resources of a small broadcaster or newspaper. The foreign correspondent may be able to draw on the abundant resources of an international press service, using the already well established infrastructure of his or her media organization to deliver that story. From that point, local media often pick up the story, passing the blame to the foreign press organization.

Reports from foreign journalists indicate that multiple visas are difficult to obtain. In 2001 the Papua New Guinea government denied foreign journalists visas to avoid scrutiny of an asylum-seeker detention center on Manus Island, according to Reporters Without Borders, an international service organization. Some 360 refugees, largely Iraqi citizens, were reported to have been subjected to substandard living quarters and human rights abuses.

News Agencies

Getting up-to-date reliable information from the Pacific region has always been very difficult, according to David Robie, lecturer in journalism at the University of Papua New Guinea. The combination of orally based societies, limited technology, and unreliable telephone lines has meant the news from Papua New Guinea makes its way slowly to the outside world, if at all.

No government news agency exists in Papua New Guinea, but several private agencies operate. Among them are Tifa Papua, Jubi, and Info Papua. Pactok was set up in 1991 as a low-cost electronic mail network, carrying a Papua New Guinea news service or "niuswire" since 1996. Initiated by Pacific region journalist and educator David Robie, the service was created in response to requests from Papua New Guinea expatriates wanting to stay in touch with area news. The Niuswire carries stories from a variety of local sources, including the Post-Courier , as well as reports from the Association of Progressive Communication and InterPress Manila sources. Stories carried by the news service usually cover socioeconomic, political, environmental, and media issues.

The Australian Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, and Reuters are the main foreign news-wire agencies with an interest in the Pacific. Others include Kyodo, the Deutsche Press Association, and Knight-Ridder. Financial wire services also run stories touching on issues affecting trade or stock markets.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) continues to distinguish itself in the Pacific with a team of local contributors and stringers around the region who feed copy via Auckland into AFP's worldwide network. This combination of local knowledge, regional experiences, and an ability to translate the Pacific for Western audiences is unparalleled. Most world newspapers and even the Pacific media receive their news via AFP copy.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) maintains a resident correspondent in Papua New Guinea, providing radio and television coverage. It also retains a full-time correspondent covering the rest of the Pacific region from Australia. The correspondent coordinates a group of local stringers traveling regularly in the region. The ABC's international service, Radio Australia, provides specific programming about and for the Pacific region via short-wave radio, the Internet, and broadcasts on Pacific radio stations. These programs are in English and Tok Pisin. The ABC coverage of the Pacific, other than Papua New Guinea, has primarily been on radio, as television has not infiltrated the region.

Within the region, Pacnews plays an increasingly important media role. Media organizations around the Pacific send their top stories each day to the Pacnews office in Suva, where it is compiled into three daily dispatches and e-mailed and faxed to the growing number of subscribing news organizations. Pacnews provides access to firsthand reports, written by journalists on the spot—Pacific journalists writing about their own place and events, so they can explain with insight into the culture shaping those events. Though many of its subscribers are broadcast media, Pacnews is a text-only service.

The Internet has become a useful tool for media, primarily as another outlet for already established services. Most Western media organizations now operate Web sites that provide another outlet for their core services, allowing people in Papua New Guinea to read American newspapers within minutes of publication, and vice versa. E-mail has become an inexpensive and effective way of communicating, helping journalists to make contact across the vast distances of the Pacific region. The ABC now routinely uses the web and e-mail to file its stories. Foreign correspondents can load their voice report for radio into a laptop computer, compress it using new technologies, attach it to an e-mail, and send it home for broadcast, at the cost of a telephone call.

Several journalism networks and online media criticism organizations serving Papua New Guinea have sprouted since 1995. The Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) was formed in October 2001 to provide a formal network for Pacific Islands media. Although PIMA is headquartered in New Zealand, it represents Papua New Guinea media.

Pacific Media Watch is an independent, nonprofit, non-government organization of journalists. It supports media freedom, examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom, and media ownership in the Pacific region through its news articles and archives. The Asia-Pacific Network provides independent journalism on social, political, environmental, media, and development issues in the Asia-Pacific region and maintains an archive of Pacific media analysis and news.

Electronic News Media

Broadcasting in Papua New Guinea began in 1934 with the radio performance of a native missionary choir. By 1946 the country's Department of Education began creating programming for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) station of news, talk shows, sports, information, and entertainment; 40 percent for natives, 30 percent for expatriates, and 30 percent for both populations.

By 1961 the government had begun its own broadcasting system, whose programming included music, agricultural features, international news, and local government council meetings. In 1973 the government radio merged with ABC to create the Papua New Guinea Broadcasting Commission. Its educational programming is significant in a country where schooling is not compulsory, and fewer than one-third of its citizens attend school at all. The educational broadcasts decrease isolation, upgrade educational standards, and supplement correspondence school programs. Though the station is government supported, it began broadcasting advertisements in 1977 to cover operating costs.

Papua New Guinea's only television station, EMTV, was launched in 1987. By 2002 the station operated two transmitters in Port Moresby and six others around the country, reaching just under two million people. Its programming includes local shows in English and Tok Pisin as well as Australian programming.

Papua New Guinea entered the information age in 1997, when Telikom PNG launched Tiare, the national Internet gateway service. In 2002 there were five commercial suppliers. Papua New Guinea's electronic media has entered the modern age, with improved communication, Internet publishing capability, a new television station, and burgeoning print press distribution. Although the Internet is regarded as a far-reaching method of conveying grassroots, independent information over great distances, it is ineffective within Papua New Guinea. Internet connections rely on a reliable phone system, rare in Papua New Guinea's interior. Not only are the web servers necessary to establish a Web site inaccessible to most Papua New Guineans, less than one percent of the population has Internet access at all, and few villagers have financial resources to obtain and power computer equipment. Barriers of illiteracy and diverse languages make Web news ineffective. Outside of the urban middle classes, television is a tentative and marginal media source, as barriers to owning televisions hinder access for a large part of the region' population. Radio remains the primary means of receiving news; a sociologist studying one native village discovered radios in half the homes.

Education and Training

Some 68 percent of New Guinean journalists have attended college, and the country is home to two university journalism programs. At the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), a journalism program has been in place since 1974. Over 170 UPNG alumni work in key media positions throughout the South Pacific. Its award-winning student newspaper, Uni Tavua , is partially funded by the Post-Courier , the Dutch Communication Assistance Foundation, and the New Zealand High Commission. UPNG's journalism program was closed briefly in 1999.

Among resources published by journalism students are the fortnightly newspaper Uni Tavur ; a media and communications journal, Pacific Journalism Review ; a daily Web site and e-mail news service, Niuswire ; a quarterly communications newsletter e-mailed to more than 80 subscribers, Media Nius; ; and a comprehensive new textbook on mass media in the region: Nius Bilong Pasifik: Mass Media in the Pacific . The University of Papua New Guinea was the first Pacific region university to launch a full online newspaper in 1995.

In the city of Madang, the Divine Word University offers a two-year journalism diploma and a bachelor's degree in journalism. The program was established in 1989. The department operates as a news agency covering the Madang area, and all students are required to undertake coverage of news events and feature writing assignments for national and international media organizations. Students regularly provide the Post-Courier , The National , and The Independent with news stories and features. Reports are provided for radio news bulletins and for EM-TV. Students also wrote an in-depth feature on polygamy that was published in an international magazine, and other articles were syndicated by the international agency Inter Press Service (IPS) Asia-Pacific.


Since declaring independence in 1975, Papua New Guinea has made enormous progress in media development. It has added television and online publishing to its list of media resources, and expanded circulation and distribution of print publications. With its burgeoning journalism education programs and free-flowing media discourse, Papua New Guinea can expect increased improvement in press objectivity, freedom, and methodology. Most major media is still in foreign hands, but the inclusion of Internet publishing may increase grassroots, independent media. With the continued cooperation of government agencies in maintaining press freedom and developing new ways to reach indigenous peoples, Papua New Guinea's press looks upon a bright future.

Significant Dates

  • 1987: EM-TV, Papua New Guinea's first and only television station, is launched.
  • 1994: Parliament approves the National Policy on Information and Communication of Papua New Guinea.
  • 1995: The National replaces Niugini News ; in 1996 it is the region's first online paper.


Asia Pacific Network. 2002. Available from .

Central Intelligence Agency. "Papua New Guinea." In CIA World Factbook . Washington, D.C.: 2002.

International Press Institute. "Papua New Guinea." 2000 World Press Freedom Review 2000.

Nash, Sorariba. "UPNG Lecturer Critical Over Lack of Hel,." Pacific Media Watch, 26 Aug. 1999.

Paraide, Daniel. "Papua New Guinea Report: Universal Access to Publications." Office of Libraries and Archives, Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Sept. 2001.

Programme in Comparative Law and Media, Wolfson University, Oxford University, and Yeshiva University. "Papua New Guinea." Communications Law in Transition Newsletter (Sept. 4, 2000).

Reporters Sans Frontiers. "Journalists Prevented From Reporting About Refugee Camp in Papua New Guinea." 15 March 2002.

——. "Papua New Guinea Annual Report 2002."

Robertson, Robbie. "Challenges Over Pacific Free Media." Pacific Journalism Review (November 1995).

Robie, David. "On the Line: Papua New Guinea's Media Independence." Reportage Media Bulletin (Aug. 1996).

——. " Post-Courier Shrugs off Buy-Out Claims." Asia-Pacific Network (April 11, 1999).

——. "Press Freedom Ethics and the Constitution." Pacific Journalism Review (Nov. 1996).

U.S. Department of State. "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices." Washington, D.C.: 1996.

——. "Papua New Guinea." Background Notes . Washington, D.C.: 2000.

Blair Tindall

Also read article about Papua New Guinea from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

yehiura hriehwazi
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Jun 8, 2009 @ 10:22 pm
The facts about the two newspapers circulation figures may have been correct some years ago.
The National is now the biggest selling newspaper in PNG while post-courier is declining in its circulation figures as shown by audit figures published by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) based in Sydney which audits both newspapers.
The National's daily average circulation for the first quarter of this year was 30,400 while post courier is about 21,000. Pls check your figures with ABC.
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Sep 16, 2010 @ 10:10 am
I have a question to those whom it concerns: how can I (living in Europe/Germany)subscribe to the Wantok Niuspepa. I have been desperately trying to get someone from the PNG Press but to no avail. I hope you can help me get closer to meeting the desire. Thank you very much and God bless.
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Apr 10, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
Cheers to you all..this is very helpful info with my marketing research work.. :-)
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Apr 12, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
Hello, I am a Communication Arts student @ Divine Word University and am doing a research on 'Difficulties and Challenges affecting PNG Journalists' to complete my Academic Essay. Can some one name me some of the challenges please.
thank you
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May 6, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
I am a Communication Arts Student at the Divine Word University in Beautiful Madang, PNG and I am doing a research for my major essay on the Challenges of PNG journalists in covering rural areas of Papua New Guinea.Can someone out there link me to websites or experts who have a done a research on PNG Media Coverages on Rural Areas of Papua New Guinea.

Thank you very much
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May 7, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
I am a first year student studying Communicaton Arts at Divine Word University in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. This Information is vital for my acedemic essay on the "Challenges of journalism in Papua New Guinea". My topics are based on the three forms of media,i.e: Radio, Television and Newspapers. So I just want to say thank you...
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May 10, 2011 @ 6:06 am
thanks for the hard work you put in bringing informations like this to our nose tip through the cliking of the mouse.i would like to know how the media clashes with culture as it is one of the challenges facing PNG journalist. it will be much helpful for my essay which is due next week.
Bradley Gregory
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May 11, 2011 @ 1:01 am
Hi, Im a first year Communication Arts student at the Divine Word University, Madang in Papua Newv Guinea. First of all, thank you for the information you put together, it was helpful. Just a coment, most of the information is about PNG history and the history of media in PNG, could you guys update it and add some more topics like challenges of journalism in PNG. THANKYOU!!!...
Helen Reuben
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Apr 2, 2012 @ 2:02 am
Hi, I'm am doing Business Studies at the International Training Institute, Lae in Papua New Guinea and I am doing research for my essay (major project) on the "Bride-price Custom practiced in PNG should be Abolished". I need some latest statistics on "Violence Against Women" to support my statement or some information that can support my three (3) points are as follows: Bride-price, Assaulting & Equal Responsibility or Gender Equality or any overview of the topic or any information that is helpful. Thank you and I kindly await your response.
Howard Bando
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Mar 8, 2013 @ 10:22 pm
Hi I'm a first year journalism student @ DWU and I would like to know the how the two news papers The National and the Post differ from each other and plus also their similarities.I'm currently doing a research this two news paper's constituent parts, its structure and function. Your response will be greatly appreciated. Thankyou.
Merolyn Ten
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Mar 8, 2013 @ 11:23 pm
I am a first year Jurnalism student at Divine Word University. I am working on an assignment about finding the differences and simillaries of the two PNG daily newspapers. Please i wish for your help.
Waiting to see your reply.
Thank you!
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Jul 31, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
I'm a final year Communication Arts student in Divine Word University. I am doing my major research paper on "The Big Man culture and its influence on journalists and journalism in Papua New Guinea". In this research the Big Man would be politicians, business man, etc. as seen in PNG today. I would appreciate your opinions and views on my topic
David Haigh
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May 3, 2014 @ 6:18 pm
Another monthly newspaper which has been produced sinece 2006 in its current form.
Lihir i Lamel (Lihir today in Tik ples Lir.
Lihir I Lamel (Lihir Today) is a collaborative community newspaper, distributed nationally each month in PNG by the stakeholders in the Lihir Gold Mine, Newcrest Mining Limited, Lihir Mining Area Landowners Association (LMALA), Nimamar Rural Local Level Government (NRLLG) and the New Ireland Provincial Government (NIPG).

The Lihir I Lamel newspaper is the key grassroots communication tool in the province and is the only one of it's kind in PNG. The paper is produced by the SD Media Team of the Sustainable Development Dept. of Newcrest Mining Limited's (NML) Lihir Gold Operations on behalf of the stakeholders. Stories and other contributions are provided by journalists from NRLLG, NIPG and NML. The paper is printed with funds from the Lihir Sustainable Development Plan (LSDP).

From 2006 to date the SD Media team built strong and respectful relationships with the stakeholders evidenced by the fact that there were no complaints from the stakeholders regarding the content or editorial direction of the paper.

The publication received a commendation from the Deputy Prime Minister of PNG as shown below. While the commendation is well earned it neglects to mention the significant contribution of the other key stakeholders from the NRLLG, the NIPG, LMALA and the LSDP.
Lorna Paul
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May 6, 2014 @ 5:05 am
Hi,my name is Lorna Paul,I'm a first year journalism student at Divine Word University ,Madang,Papua New Guinea,.As a starter in the field of journalism I find this article to be very informational and academically helpful.Im workking on an assignment on Media and its history in PNG and this article was of great help to me.Thank you so much..
Quineth Wangoro
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May 6, 2014 @ 10:22 pm
Hello, my name is Quineth Wangoro, a freshman at Divine Word University studying Communication Arts Journalism in Madang,PNG.
I'm working on an assignment concerning the History of media in PNG and this article is very helpful to me because it contains so many details and information that I don't really know. I think this article would help me much with my essay. THANKS VERY MUCH.
Audrey Kari
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May 8, 2014 @ 5:05 am
hi,I'm Audrey Kari a first year communication arts (Journalism) student in DWU Madang,Papua New Guinea. I am working on an assignment on the History of News media in PNG.Those information given are very helpful to me and it makes it more easier for me to understand what News Media is about. thank you very much.
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May 9, 2014 @ 2:02 am
I am Donilla DEBUYO also a first year Journalism student Divine Word University with great pleasure I would like to acknowledge you for the fine facts stated about News Media in Papua New Guinea.
I just have one question,are there strict rules and regulations that are set by the government to protect journalist if they are being harassed for simply doing their job?
It is sad to come to think of it we all do not want what had happened in 2001 has stated above to be repeated again.
Above all thanks again this information helped me a lot in completing my write up. (y)
Paul Hengdui
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Oct 19, 2014 @ 10:22 pm
I am Paul HENGDUI a first year of University of Goroka. Since, Media studies is my minor course here, just last week, I was in formed to partake in the TVWAN HD, a new world of Media for Papua New Guinea. Therefore, thanks and am really happy for participate in the coming event, thanks a lot.
Daniel Kutela
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Feb 24, 2015 @ 5:17 pm
I am Daniel Kutela a fourth year of the university of goroka and I will write a research proposal and I think this information will help me complete my research and I would like to thank you form providing information about media in papua new guinea. thanks.
concy simon
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Apr 25, 2015 @ 12:00 am
Very informative article, in helps a lot in one of my research assignments.
Clare Joshua
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Apr 30, 2015 @ 7:19 pm
Hello, am a first year Communication Arts student at Divine Word University. I am currently working on an assignment on challenges of media in PNG and this has really helped. Thank you!
Marjorie Maddiar
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May 9, 2015 @ 12:00 am
Marjorie Maddiar

Hi, I am a second year Communication Arts Student in Divine Word University and I really appreciate the effort you have put into this information. Please I really need more substantial and more latest update of the challenges that our journalist population are facing at the moment. I think you should be really looking at the situation at end in this 2oth century.

All in all thank you so much :)
Dolly Palek
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Oct 13, 2015 @ 1:01 am
I am a first year Communication Arts student at Divine Word University in Madang and I would like to know some of the roles that journalism plays in Papua New Guinea.
Thank you for the informative piece though. It helped much with my mini research.
Elly Marie
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Mar 19, 2016 @ 2:02 am
Hi, I am a first year student at UPNG majoring in Journalism and Public Relations and minoring in Political Science. I received an assignment for my major in JPR, Mass Communication. I've been asked to write a seven (7) page essay about the mediums/channels of communication in PNG, specifically on Television. Just asking if I can be helped, by provisions of current information about the active operating TV stations in PNG, and also to include in my discussion about issues to do with ownership of all stations, and whether they are free-to-air stations, and where their financial standing comes from. Also, to include the details of how programmes are televised and how they select programmes to be viewed by the audience. Thank you.
Anna petrus
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Mar 31, 2016 @ 5:05 am
hellow, i am a third year student @ the university of papua new guine majoring information communication sciences and minoring journalism. i received an asignment for my minor in JPR, Print media producion one an i 've been asked to a ten page essay about the history and roles of newspaper before independence, after independence and present time.and this article really helped me alot. thanks so much reaslly appreciated.
Linson Karu
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Apr 2, 2016 @ 1:13 pm
THANKS SO MUCH!! I was really blessed with your creative write up here. It's so helpful. Thanks..
Cathy Akori
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Apr 3, 2016 @ 9:09 am
Iam Cathy Akori, A first year journalism student at the University of Papua New Guinea.. The information provided is really good, however it would be really helpful if there's more background information about PNG's TV stations. I've received an essay assignment which requires me to write about PNG's TV stations but the information here about TV is just brief.
Jacqueline Isoy
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Apr 5, 2016 @ 10:22 pm
Hi, I'm a third year student at the University of Papua New Guinea majoring in Journalism & Public Relations. This article is pretty helpful in terms of knowing the history of the different mediums in PNG. Thanks
Amanda Rimur
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Mar 22, 2017 @ 5:05 am
I am Amanda Rimur a second year Student in Communication Arts (Journalism) at Divine Word University. This article had help shared light in knowing the facts behind different communication mediums such as Radio and Print media. But information about online and television is too brief. Can anyone comment on how this too mediums mention would influence the society considering Papua New Guinea context as a whole. Thank you very much.
Stanish Chaun Atio
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May 5, 2017 @ 7:19 pm
My name is Stanish C.Atio , am really greatful .The article helps alot in doing my research.
Fredah Tapas
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May 19, 2017 @ 11:23 pm
Hello I'm a first year student at UPNG and I've been asked to write an essay of 5-6pages about the Members of Parliament whether to have certain prerequisites before contesting for the election. I need some ideas on why they should impose prerequisites to attract quality leaders.
Angelyn Topo
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Jun 4, 2017 @ 6:18 pm
hellow, Iam a third year journilism student at UPNG. i would like to ask if you could help me on some information on weather radio broadcast is still important in PNG because with the entry of internet, social media and other improved forms of communication system in PNG, there seems to be a decline in the popularity of some of our traditional forms of communication.
Kalson Albert
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May 13, 2018 @ 11:23 pm
Hello, i am Albert Kalson a first year English Communication student minoring journalism at the University of Papua New Guinea. I am currently doing a research on the issue of social media and the internet affecting the current circulation and the financial status of the two major newspapers namely, Post Courier and The National in PNG. I urgently need some statistical information on the issue.
Junior Nenakea
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May 15, 2018 @ 9:21 pm
Iam Junior Nenakae doing my first year in the school of Journalism and Public Relation. I would like to say that everything written here is a blessing to me because I got so many help from this written work to do one of my major assignment and a test.
thanks alot..
Chris Salwin
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Apr 11, 2019 @ 6:18 pm
I am a first year journalism student at UPNG 2019, and I was assigned a task to research on the Print Media in PNG. During one of my actions, I came across this blog that entirely solved the problem. Additionally, somebody's hard work help others like me a lot. Therefore, many thanks to the person who structured the blog.

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