PAPUA NEW GUINEA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers

By Emmanuel Narokobi

Since we’re talking about the NTS at the moment, thought I’d share this information I found on a random google search (“PNG, TV”).

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


Most of the data references are dated back to 2002. So the above info is unlikely to be the latest out there, but it does give a good indication of where we are now with our media. Here’s an excerpt of the introduction:


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.

See full article here.


2 thoughts on “PAPUA NEW GUINEA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers

  1. Michel is French Jude is Australian. They are both coming in February to Port Moresby and possibly in other places, to present a 57 minute doco, “Our Seeds: Seeds Blong Yumi” it is about health, nutrition and the downside of food imports. It is a celebration of the plant keepers who stand at the source of our food diversity heritage. it’s a fun film. There is plenty of feasting, kids, funny animals and a great music sound track that we recorded while filming in eleven countries.

    Please have a look at the 3 minute promo clip on our site . It is also on

    Should you want to meet with us about the documentary or organise screening let me know, interview us or broadcast the film let us know.

    We arrive in POM on February 15th. Possibly stay at the Comfort Inn unless we find something better.

    We also like to interview people on food and culture. What its like to survive from the supermaket in the city and how good it is to produce food in the urban areas. We love to shoot inventive practices adapted to small spaces.

    Until we meet….

    Michel and Jude

    Michel Fanton

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