PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH’S Alistar Kata has just filed an interesting report about the virtual “shut out” of no-mining critics in Bougainville in the lead-up to the elections next month. The report was about a head-to-head interview with the Bougainville Freedom Movement’s long-time campaigner Vikki John and New Dawn FM broadcaster Aloysius Laukai, both past award winners for their contrasting roles.
John claimed the “ownership” of news websites was hampering opposition news, saying this was another form of “brainwashing” by the company that is angling for resumption of copper mining at Panguna, the mine which triggered the 10-year Bougainville civil war. However, Laukai was at great pains to reject any alleged links to the powerful Bougainville Copper Limited mining lobby.
Last month’s new mining law passed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s legislature last month has paved the way to make reopening of the mine possible.
“No, we have no links and that’s why we have put up heaps of stories and cover events such as the mining forums,” Laukai told Kata. “There must be some confusion with us and another Bougainville news website.”
He was probably referring to Bougainville24 news website, which is produced by Bougainville Copper Ltd. But that isn’t the end of the story.
According to the European Shareholders of BCL, they have been backing New Dawn FM and have promoted an appeal to channel funds to the community broadcaster, founded with UNESCO support in 2008.
A link to this was revealed in a posting on the Pacific Media Centre website today, which referred to ABG and Bougainville Copper Foundation funding for New Dawn. The European Shareholders webpage goes like this:
RADIO NEW DAWN NEEDS YOU!
Radio New Dawn on Bougainville has been founded a couple of years ago. It is the first free network made by Bougainvilleans for Bougainvilleans. At the present, the radio station is in threat of shutting down.
Small revenues from local businesses and the Autonomous Bougainville Government cannot guarantee its existence. Bankruptcy would be fatal.
Radio New Dawn is the only genuine voice of Bougainville compared to all other media who report from PNG’s capital Port Moresby – some 1000 kilometres away.
Aloysius Laukai, manager and chief editor, [has] been honored for his work in the past. But honors alone cannot assure the broadcaster’s survival. The ESBC appreciate a lot [of] the crew’s information work. After years of uncertainty during the Bougainville crisis, Radio New Dawn created a new public awareness and self-confidence on the island.
Therefore, the European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC) are proud of supporting this shining project. This is in the interest of locals and all those from abroad who benefit from Radio New Dawn’s internet blog that updates information on the positive development in Bougainville. Financial funding will be highly welcome.
We strongly hope that our initiative will be successful and help to maintain Radio New Dawn’s services in future. Please find our account information here! You also can send funds directly to Radio New Dawn on Bougainville.
Late last year, on October 7, the BCL mining website announced that New Dawn FM had turned to modern mobile phone apps and social media to cover news in remote parts of Bougainville region.
“Station manager Aloysius Laukai now has 15 staff members working under him as the team seek to build awareness on the biggest issues affecting Bougainville,” reported the BCL website.
“Laukai and his reporters use WhatsApp and Viber, cross-platform mobile apps, to exchange information and file stories.”
It was also reported that a radio infrastructure upgrade was being funded to enable FM coverage across the whole region. Who was paying the bills? “Jointly funded by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Copper Foundation,” said the BCL website.
Bougainville’s two-week regional elections next month begin on May 11.
Listen to Alistar Kata’s Pacific Media Watch report here giving another side to the story.