Fiji TV will shed its majority shares in PNG’s main television company EMTV, in anticipation of changes to media ownership legislation from the O’Neill government that have yet to be publicly announced.
Chief Executive Officer of Fiji TV, Tevita Gonelevu told Islands Business that EMTV has been “privately informed” of the PNG Government’s intentions to change foreign ownership rules and that there had been indications from the PNG Government that as a result, they would want to see changes.
The move comes amid a wider push by Richard Maru, the country’s Minister for Commerce and Industry, to give PNG nationals greater control over key sectors of the economy. Last month the government rejected a takeover of shares in New Britain Palm Oil Limited by a Malaysian company, with Maru citing a push to drastically reduce the high levels of foreign ownership of PNG businesses, especially in sectors deemed to be in the ‘national interest’.
Details are limited on what the changes to media ownership may involve.
“They would be enacting a law, something like the Fiji Media Decree, where ownership would be majority owned by locals,” Gonelevu said.
“The board of Fiji TV is aware of this fact and in the next few months, we would be working closely with stakeholders in PNG to find the right path,” he said.
Most commercial media outlets in PNG are foreign owned. For example, the Post-Courier is owned by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, while The National is owned by Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau. Another Fijian company owns several popular FM radio stations. Until 2004, EMTV was owned by Australia’s Nine Network.