Radio and Television Broadcasting in Papua New Guinea

The first radio station was established by the Amalgamated Wireless Company in Port Moresby in October 1935. It was closed down during World War II, but in 1943 a radio station began broadcasting from Port Moresby to Australian and American troops. After the war this station was taken over by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), a statutory body funded by the Australian government. The programs were mainly news, sports and entertainment, initally aimed at the expatriate audience. In the 1960s the ABC began to aim its programs also at a Melanesian audience, and began sending Melanesians to Australia for training. The Department of Education provided the station with programs in Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu until 1962 when the ABC prepared its own programs in these languages. In 1961 the Administration began establishing a network of relatively low-powered stations, which broadcast educational and news programs in local languages. Stations based in the main towns covered the most densely populated regions.

After 1975 these services merged to form a statutory body called the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). The NBC’s national Karai Service provides news, current affairs, schools broadcasts, sports and music. Most programs are in English, but the news is repeated in Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu, and interviews are often conducted in Tok Pisin. An FM service, the Kalang Service, carries advertising, and has more music and popular programs. The provincial Kundu Service broadcasts local news and current affairs programs, sports and entertainment in Hiri Motu, Tok Pisin and major regional languages. Many Kundu stations also provide a program through which people can convey messages. In areas where other means of communication are scarce this provides a very useful service.

PNG has one television station, EMTV, established in 1988 in Port Moresby. EMTV is a commercial station owned by an Australian company. It provides local news and sporting programs. The other programs are those being broadcast at the time by Channel Nine in Australia. Many hotels, and some better-off private households, have installed dishes to pick up television signals from overhead telecommunications satellites. In main towns, these signals are further relayed by cable. Services which can be received from satellites include those of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Channel Nine from Australia, American armed forces programs from Micronesia and Indonesian and Malayan services.

Mountainous terrain means that television signals cannot be received far from broadcasters in most parts of the country; hence satellite dishes are more efficient. Mountainous terrain and atmospheric conditions make it difficult to hear AM broadcasts from major centers; hence there is a multiplication of small, low-powered stations. Television sets and radios are concentrated mainly in the towns.

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