A letter signed by Tyrone James, the New Democratic Party’s General Secretary, was dispatched to Dionne John in her capacity as General Manager of the National Broadcasting Corporation in protest of what appears to be deliberate efforts to deny NDP President and duly appointed Opposition Leader Dr. Godwin Friday access to NBC’s broadcasting resources.
The August 7 communique lamented the fact that “Dr. Friday has requested access to the national radio station [NBC Radio705] to communicate to the nation on matters of public interest and importance. He has still not been allowed such access. Indeed, it is noticeable that NBC 705 does not even attend Dr. Friday’s media conferences, despite invitations to do so.”
The letter also chronicled attempts “to address the matter” by NDP’s Public Relations Officer Laverne King. These efforts included “several messages” that were left at the radio station “about two months ago” by PRO King.
According to James, these messages were not acknowledged. “She then visited the station to discuss the matter and enquired if slots were available in the month of July. She was informed that all slots were booked out. After further discussion, she was told that someone would get back to her within two weeks. No one did.”
James was also moved to remind the station’s General Manager of the constitutional validity of Dr. Friday’s office as Opposition Leader as he tabled another request for access.
“The Leader of the Opposition is a constitutional position in our system of government. As the person holding that position for the time being, Dr. Friday has a responsibility to address the nation on matters of public interest and importance. Accordingly, he is requesting a weekly slot on the national radio station, NBC Radio 705.”
We reached out to Colvin Harry, NBC Radio’s Progamme Manager, who opted “not to speak about that at the moment.” However, he acknowledged receipt of James’ missive and intimated that his management team was “in the process of going through” the letter. Though, he said, “I’m not sure if anybody else would be willing to comment on it; at least not at this moment.”
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is currently allotted at least 2 hours every Wednesday morning as he delivers weekly updates to the station’s Morning Cup listeners and viewers via its Facebook live stream. That show is also hosted by Colvin Harry.
A similar situation was recently resolved in another Eastern Caribbean jurisdiction when the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party threatened to bring legal action against “the government and state-run ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation for infringing on the rights of the people.”
Earlier this year, the SKN Labour Party accused the state owned media outlet of “contravening their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and the right to be protected from discrimination.”
In an unprecedented move ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation responded by allocating “equal air time to all to each registered political party ahead of the St. Kitts and Nevis general elections,” LoopNewsCaribbean.com reported.