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Sep 28, 1998

U.D.P. criticizes shutdown of B.C.B.

While the new government continues to translate its manifesto promises into reality, the Opposition has publicly taken issue with one such intention: that is the dismantling of the Broadcasting Corporation of Belize. In a press release issued today the U.D.P. took the ruling party to task for shutting down the B.C.B., claiming that the manifesto promise to privatize it meant that the corporation would be sold as a going concern, rather than its assets auctioned and employees retrenched. The release went on to accuse the P.U.P. of deceiving the public by plotting to sell B.C.B.’s assets in some kind of sweetheart arrangement. It concluded by suggesting an alternative of privatizing the B.C.B. through the public sale of shares. While the U.D.P. tried to whip up public support for the saving of the station, Minister of Broadcasting Mark Espat has over the past week been meeting with private broadcasters as well as B.C.B. employees to solicit advice on how to proceed with the B.C.B. shutdown. Espat explained on Saturday that it was apparent that no one was interested in buying the financially distressed institution, that key assets like towers and transmission sites would be leased and not sold and that government would assist all employees in their efforts to find new jobs. Espat also assured listeners that public service broadcasting would not be abandoned, but that instead new mechanisms would be created under which private broadcasters would increase their output of educational and public service programs.

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