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Aug 17, 2011

Caribbean Broadcasting Union media moguls conference

Since joining the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) in 1991, Belize is hosting its annual general assembly for the third time.  While CBU executives have held meetings in Belize City and Placencia on prior occasions, they are tonight on Ambergris Caye where a two-day session is being held to discuss the development of the broadcasting industry within the Caribbean.  Led by President Vic Fernandes and Secretary General Patrick Cozier, the AGA officially got underway this morning with its opening ceremony being led by Prime Minister Dean Barrow. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was in North San Pedro and files the following report.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Representatives from member stations comprising the Caribbean Broadcasting Union are presently in Belize for the forty-second annual general assembly.  It’s been eight years since the Jewel last hosted the convergence of media executives in Placencia.  Under new ownership and management Great Belize Productions Ltd., the parent company of Channel Five, is facilitating the two-day gathering which is being held at the Coco Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye.  The AGA was officially launched this morning by Prime Minister Dean Barrow who, in his keynote address, emphasized the need for continued responsibility within the media.

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“It is, I think we all agree, very much a truism that media freedom must go hand in hand with media responsibility and I refer again to what the president said in his remarks.  And media can abuse their right of freedom of expression in very many ways including through sensationalism, propaganda and bias.  Here in Belize the matter is greatly complicated by the presence of media organs that are politically owned and directed and not even the defamation laws seem to give pause to these.  The problems they pose are a special subset of the more general concerns regarding the need for journalistic balance and fair play.”

Despite P.M. Barrow highlighting the need to regulate the role of the media, particularly here in Belize, CBU President Vic Fernandes urged his colleagues in the industry to remain wary of political restrictions that can affect its function.

Vic Fernandes, President, CBU

Vic Fernandes

“There is also the ongoing issue of the harmonization of regulatory policies in the region even as politicians attempt to further circumscribe the rights of broadcasters and seek more regulatory and government control.  We must be ever vigilant that regulations do not provide a back door for political interference in the affairs of the broadcast media.  We accept that as members of the broadcasting fraternity we have obligations and responsibilities to our region, our people and responsibilities to ourselves.  Part of that responsibility must surely be to guard against the erosion of rights and freedoms.”

The Caribbean Broadcasting Union which was founded in 1970 has since embarked on a series of regionally syndicated programs, most notably CaribScope and Caribbean Newsline; the latter, a nightly newscast aired immediately following News Five.  The CBU has also established a hall of fame for veteran newscasters and media personnel who have contributed a minimum of twenty years to the development of broadcasting in the Caribbean.  This year’s inductees include J.A. Lester Spaulding who presided over the union between 1987 and 1991 as well as Stewart Krohn, Founding Managing Director of Channel Five.

J.A. Lester Spaulding, Hall of Fame Inductee

J.A. Lester Spaulding

“I am really honored that this has been bestowed on me.  I take it as a sign that a long life dedicated to the management of broadcasting and transmission of information to the public which makes democracy viable is still recognized and valued.  But I am deeply aware that I am only one of a long line of creative and hardworking broadcasters who collectively have done so much and so good and that those broadcasters who have also been recognized by the CBU.”

Stewart Krohn

Stewart Krohn, Hall of Fame Inductee

“I know it’s a weird juxtaposition but I really feel the same way about my long and wonderful marriage as I do about my career in broadcasting and that is, for both, I have absolutely no regrets. Thank you very much. [Applause]”

While the CBU has taken time to formally recognize lifelong contributors the organization is looking towards the future, primarily the pending transition to digital broadcasting in a dire economic climate.

Shida Bolai, Vice President, CBU

Shida Bolai

“There are tremendous issues facing, and challenges facing the broadcasters, from the digital transition that is coming our way in 2015 to the economic downturn to the issues of standards in broadcasting, you know.  We have a whole lot of issues and those are some of the issues that we continue to address in meetings such as these.”

The CBU annual general assembly concludes on Thursday. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “Caribbean Broadcasting Union media moguls conference”

  1. subKonshus says:

    Okay Mr. Barrow, you should be last person to complain about fair play and responsibility in the media because if I am not mistaken, Wave FM was the first official polarized radio station in Belize. It was the UDP who set the standard for polarized, unfair, and biased propaganda broadcasting in the “freedom of the press” nation of Belize. But now the chickens have come home to roost haven’t they? Remember, the same knife weh stab sheep, kill goat. But there is hope for redemption Mr. Barrow. You could lead by example and lock off that puppet radio station of the UDP, then Positive Vibes would be pressured to follow. But as usual, your speeches are nothing more than political rhetoric, just saying what people want to hear……

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