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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 31) - The PNG Post-Courier newspaper’s editorial direction and content is decided by an all-Papua New Guinean team of journalists, according to the publication’s Australian owner.

It is not directed by any executive of the newspaper’s parent company, News Limited, in Australia, Post Courier board chairman Peter Chegwyn said yesterday.

Speaking to shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting at Sela Haus, the newspaper’s headquarters in Port Moresby yesterday morning, Mr. Chegwyn said the board had full confidence in the newspaper’s all-Papua New Guinean editorial team and commended it for its fearless reporting of corruption and social problems in the country.

"To those who enjoy, when it suits them, making suggestions that our editorial direction is biased towards Australian wishes, may I just say that never has any executive of our parent companies interfered in the editorial policies of this newspaper," Chegwyn said. "All editorial direction and policy is made here in PNG by none other than the 100 percent Papua New Guinean editorial management team."

For the financial year ending June 30, Chegwyn told shareholders Post Courier Limited posted a net profit of PGK1.979 million [US$717,349], up 56 percent from last year.

He described it as "a successful and spectacular year" for the company.

Post Courier shareholders will be paid a dividend of 40 toea [US$0.14] a share which equates to PGK960,731 [US$348,204] of the total profit of PGK1,979,238.

Chegwyn reiterated that the majority of the profit would remain in the country as more than 30 percent of the company was owned by Papua New Guineans through the Nambawan superannuation fund, business and individual shareholders.

"There is no other media organization in PNG that comes to any where close to this, thus making The Post-Courier very much a newspaper for Papua New Guineans," Chegwyn said.

In a year that was filled with unexpected events like threats to journalists, the Post-Courier newspaper recorded excellent sales income. Classified advertising income was 18.81 per cent higher than in the 2006 financial year. Display advertising performed even better, recording a massive 21.58 percent increase on the previous year. Chegwyn however cautioned shareholders that the same success would not be repeated in the coming year because of rising print costs, among other things. He said the appreciation of the Australian dollar against the US dollar had an impact on the kina and all print materials used by the company were purchased in Australian dollar. Chegwyn said despite serious threats to journalists and senior managers, the newspaper continued to carry out its primary function of honest and responsible reporting, keeping Papua New Guineans (and the world via the sought after Post-Courier website) well informed.

He said all funding for travel, accommodation and associated costs for this year’s election coverage was met by the company.

"This ensured there was no bias, that all reporting was very much independent and without pressure from any organization or political party," he said. Meanwhile, independent director Winifred Kamit has been reappointed to the board for another three-year term.

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