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Dec 18, 2010

Barrow says he doesn’t want Channel 5’s license terminated

Following today’s House meeting, the Prime Minister, was asked about his decision to impose censorship on Channel Five. He provided a lengthy reply which we carry in full.

Dean Barrow

“Well they’re here, aren’t they?”

Patrick Jones

“Is that a reconsideration of that ending of normal relations?”

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“Well, not at this time, but let’s be clear as to what the government has done.  Channel Five is not being locked out of any kind of public space that’s controlled by the government.  The clerk said to me this morning, well, “Is Channel Five allowed into the House?” Absolutely.  Their programme, what’s it called? That they use the Bliss Centre for – nobody’s going to deny them their access to the Bliss.  In a context like this, nobody’s going to say – I’m not going to say I’m not going to talk to the Channel Five representatives.  But I do maintain that I’ll give no personal, individual interview to Channel Five and that is the position of all the Ministers.  And I do maintain that members of the government are not to do it except in obvious circumstances.  This is not black and white.  Somebody me whether people can’t talk to Channel Five about the weather.  That would be ridiculous.  I am open with the press and I have nothing to hide.  But Channel 5 has been terribly unfair, terribly – when it comes to the way they treat the government – unprofessional.  I don’t care about their political agenda, but in the same way as Belize Times and Vibes Radio, don’t seek interviews with us.  If Channel Five will operate in the same way, then they ought not to seek interviews with us, and if they do, we will not give those interviews.  I had thought, while Channel Five clearly has an agenda, that they would make some attempt to be reasonably balanced where reporting on government news was concerned.  That was not the case and I really felt that this move was necessary to let the public know that Channel Five can’t have it both ways.  It can’t be operating under the guise of a professional, independent news outfit when it is so clearly engaging in an absolutely biased agenda.  Once that is out there, we can go back to seeing how we can do business.  The C.B.U., I think in their statement said they would be happy to attempt some kind of mediation.  I’ve told the Minister of Foreign Affairs call C.B.U. They want to send somebody to talk to you or they want to arrange for some meeting when you’re in the Caribbean.  We’ll be very happy to let them sit down with the government and Channel Five and if they can produce some kind of commitment on the part of Channel Five to be reasonably fair, while continue to some extent with their political agenda, that is their right.  If C.B.U. can produce that, we would be happy to go back to where we were before.  In the meantime, Channel Five has a right to its political agenda; we have a right to our position, that as long as that political agenda is so obvious and uncompromising we will not do individual interviews with them.”

Marion Ali

“Just in the interest of answering the questions in the minds of our viewers where we breached or we violated some regulation.  We’ve heard the response from our C.E.O., Miss Amalia Mai, and we’ve heard the allegations by the government.  Can you please tell us…”

Dean Barrow

“You know the point was made in one of the releases that was put out that if Channel Five is in violation of the Act then a complaint should be made to the Broadcasting Authority.  Certainly in terms of the refusal initially to air the government programme, to give us the hour that the law obliges Channel Five to give, a complaint could have been made to the Broadcasting Association.  Channel Five must realize that we are adopting a far softer approach.  If you complain to the Broadcasting Authority, sorry, you’re asking for sanctions to be imposed.  You’re asking perhaps for the revocation of a license to be contemplated.  That I will not do.  I will never make that complaint because I do not want to see Channel Five’s license terminated, even if Channel 5 is in clear violation of the law.  I don’t want to see their license terminated.  So please, recognize that while you might not like the position we’ve taken, that’s an extremely soft position, merely to say to you we noh di give yoh individual interviews, but not to be extreme, not to be rude, not to try to lock you out.  Very, very soft approach.”

There are two issues that we wish to respond to. Firstly, the PM claims that we have treated the government terribly and that we are unprofessional. We take issue with that statement because in our news gathering, we have always sought to get the two sides of the coin. In many instances government ministers have denied us interviews and certainly the government can never say that we have ever denied them a right of reply. Quite the contrary, they have always had access to this station.  Secondly, the Prime Minister is complaining that we were in breach of the conditions of the license because we did not carry Belmopan Weekly. For clarity, we have broadcasted that program even though the terms of the license state that the time of broadcast has to be done in consultation with us. Even when that did not happen, we carried the program. This information was provided to the press office and copied to the Broadcasting Authority and we do not agree that we have breached the conditions of license. Still yet, we are open to any discussions on this issue. We’ll have more on the House later in this newscast.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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7 Responses for “Barrow says he doesn’t want Channel 5’s license terminated”

  1. Lindsay Howard says:

    When Channel 5 was first bought out, its reporting was terribly biased. I stopped paying any attention to Channel 5 for a number of months. However, I went back as its reporting became better and less biased. Channel 5 is now doing some excellent reporting. That reporting happens to be centered on the GOB, but that’s because the GOB is creating most of the news – human trafficking, planes landing on highways with police officers involved, etc. In particular, Channel 5′s reporting on the human trafficking scandal in Belize has been outstanding, although someone seems to be falling down on the follow-up lately.

    So, Barrow is complaining about Channel 5 doing it’s job. The news media should be somewhat antagonistic toward government, because, after all, if the news media does its job, government can’t be happy, because government (any government) does things that it would prefer not to be aired in public. But, that’s the JOB of the news media, and Channel 5 has recently been doing it the best of any of our news media outlets. Channel 5′s motivation for doing such a good job might be suspect, that I don’t know, but the motivation is really irrelevant. After all, our bosses don’t ask us if we’re doing a good job because we like the money or the place, do they? They’re just happy we’re working hard and performing. That’s the way I feel about Channel 5′s new coverage – they’re working hard and performing, for whatever reason.

  2. Oscar965 says:

    Well i guess the pm has made his point. There is no turning back now, According to PM Barrow and his ministers, Channel 5 has been branded a “Blue” a “PUP” station. I however still stand with the firm belief that this will open up the floodgates to more and more discrimination towards other media houses. Barrow started down this slippery slope and many will follow down the same line. As far as I am concerned Channel 5 is a balanced, fair and professional media house and i love the fact that they present both sides of the story. Today we loose some of our Democratic rights and it was PM Barrow who started us down this path. Its a sad thing to see but he has already taken the first step and there is no turning back now. Are we not suppose to be Indenpendent and Democratic???

  3. vigilante justice 316 says:

    Hahaha, who lang face barrow think he fooling! He trying to play attorney with the government by telling all the ministries not to talk to channel 5 so that they don’t give themselves away in thier corrupt way of governing. Oops I’m afraid to speak to channel 5 lest I implicate myself in corruption when they start putting the pieces of my words together like detectives and catch me in my lies.

    Lang face said he doesn’t care about channel 5 political agenda but clearly he does because he trying to sanction the media. Even in this convoluted interview that he gave to address the censorship you can pick out his lies like flies on sh*T!

  4. Jan says:

    Channel 5 treating the terribly unfair. What else the news stations are going to talk about every night. Simply about what is eating up our beloved country. Crime, Corruption and well too bad its Mr. Barrow Administration. Geez people get a grip. With the other preview administrations other media houses did the same. Yes. Mr. Barrow it is black & white. I mean BLUE or RED…

  5. belizeanpride says:

    well let’s see when the pup goes in and closes, not banns, but closes news 7 and and other related udp media house, next election. let’s see what the bald head is gonna do, play hard and he’ll get it too. Seems he dictates now, what the hell is wrong with him. has he gone crazy?

  6. The People Had Enough says:

    wow, Dean O looks really stressed out and tired.

  7. BZNinCALI says:

    What I gathered from this convoluted message is that the door is still open & he did respond to Marion’s question instead of pretending she was not there. No one has stepped forward to back his decision & what I heard was someone trying to save face & possibly negotiate some kind of agreement which I believe can be done without Chanel 5 taking it in the shorts,.

    Belizeanpride, we would not accept PUP doing the same thing either. They lost the last election because of Musa’s arrogance. No politician in Belize can honestly believe that they are so secure in their division that they cannot be voted out of office. The PM may be frustrated with what he sees as Chanel 5′s bias but rod asking him to resign almost daily & being called long face & bald or any other names should not be confused with constructive criticism & concern which I think most of us express here. I agree with Lindsay Howard’s comment at the top of the page.

    Dean, suck it up, maybe our spelling, typing & grammar can use a little help but most of us have the ability to think. We do not like the cockroaches we are seeing when the lights are on but now that we know they are there, we have to deal with them. The twins are made of brass, a little kick can’t hurt you. Now, will you & Perdomo sit down & talk to Jose?

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