Communications and Information Technology Minister, Jimmy Miringtoro MP, has foreshadowed important reforms to cross media-ownership laws in Papua New Guinea in the upcoming session of Parliament.
Minister Miringtoro further stated that he was concerned at the way NRL broadcast right were suddenly taken away from a free-to-air television station, which he said is a move that leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
The minister said there is growing concern that competition in the communications sector would be crushed if large foreign conglomerates could begin to monopolise the market.
“We will not allow one dominant player in the Papua New Guinea communications market as this is not fair on the people of our nation,” said Minister Miringtoro.
“Given enough power these large companies can force out the smaller phone, television, radio and newspaper platforms, and then expand to other areas such as advertising.
“When one company has a monopoly over multiple media platforms they could potentially take the market for granted and charge much higher prices to our people.
“Cross-media ownership structures need to be clearly defined so that competition is ensured in our country and this will deliver better media services to our people.
“We already pay high prices that are imposed for Internet and mobile telephone calls.
“If a large phone company was able to expand into television, the savings afforded by vertical integration backed up by the deep pockets of the foreign conglomerate, would probably mean the end of any completion in Papua New Guinea media and communications.
“It would also mean one foreign company had control over the entertainment, news and sport seen by our people, and would probably see Papua New Guineans forced to pay to watch each NRL game.
“The O’Neill/Dion Government will not approve the takeover of our communications sector by a single company, and we will legislate to ensure clarity and competition in the sector.”
Minister Miringtoro said he was particularly concerned at the way the rights to broadcast NRL had been taken away from a free-to-air television station and given to a pay television broadcaster.
“For decades Papua New Guineans have been able to watch rugby league on free-to-air television,” the minister said.
“This works in a developing country like ours as the television station gets advertising revenue from companies and our grassroots people do not have to pay to watch.
“Suddenly we find that has changed and now everyone will have to pay to buy a box to watch NRL.
“This is a major disappointment for people around the nation and we will consider legislation to ensure free-to-air channels have first right to broadcast significant national sports.
“NRL and State of Origin would certainly be considered in such a list of sports.
“We will find our what was behind the sudden loss of NRL broadcast rights on free-to-air television.”
Source: PMO PNG