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PM: No newspaper will be starved of Government ads

PM: No newspaper will be starved of Government ads

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Radio and other media commentators escape strong critical analysis by Caribbean citizens because of a lack of a deep reading culture, believes Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

He made the observation as he gave remarks at last Tuesday’s official opening ceremony of SVG Publishers Inc. at the company’s printing plant at the Campden Park Industrial Estate.

Dr Gonsalves said that unlike Europe, “the old world”, which has a rich reading history, the reading culture in the Caribbean is just evolving.

He told those gathered at the historic opening ceremony that as his government’s “education revolution” continues to take root, there will be a greater demand for newspapers, as citizens will be more inclined to read and analyze what is written.

He also gave the assurance that under his government, no newspaper will be starved of government advertisements, as the administration continues to strive towards the maintenance of a good record of press freedom.

He said, however, that if a media house that shows a clear anti-government, highly partisan agenda, it will obviously not be given the same amount of government advertising as others.

He lauded the recent New York based Freedom House report which ranked St Vincent and the Grenadines 21st worldwide and 3rd in the Western Hemisphere, tied with the United States, with regard to press freedom.

Meanwhile, feature speaker, one of the most respected voices in the newspaper industry, Barbadian publishing icon Harold Hoyte, reassured the investors in the $2 million publishing venture that their investment has a bright future, despite popular opinions to the contrary.

“While it is being mooted by nay-sayers and those with vested interests in videocrarcy that there will be dwindling support for newspapers in the coming decades, I nevertheless suggest that newspapering will outlive us all,” declared Hoyte.

Hoyte said that while the “new media” is said to be right around the corner, “papers will continue to provide snapshots in time.”

He described the opening of the printing press as a landmark communications occasion in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

As she gave an overview of the project, hailing the successes achieved thus far, Clare Keizer, Company Secretary and a Director of SVG Publishers Inc., also spoke of the many challenges that tested the resolve of the shareholders, including the late delivery of the printing equipment, and the company’s decision after months of delays to terminate their relationship with the equipment vendor.

The EC$2 million project is a joint venture of I.M. Holdings (a group of 19 local investors), Metrocint General Insurance Company Ltd., the Nation Corporation, Mountain Top Springs Ltd. and Securico SVG Ltd.

On August 3rd, 2007, SVG Publishers printed 2000 copies of the Searchlight newspaper in its first print run, Keizer said. Since then, the company has been printing Searchlight and the Vincentian, and on March 27th, 2008, when the News newspaper starting printing, history was made. All three newspapers, fierce competitors, are being printed at the same press, here in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Keizer also had high praise for the support given to the company by the government, National Properties Ltd, the company’s shareholders and bankers.

After the ceremony, which included the beautiful dancing of the La Gracia Dancers, the ribbon was cut by Noreen Richards, the widow of the late “Edgie” Richards of the Vincentian newspaper, and Norma Keizer, the first editor of SEARCHLIGHT newspaper.

General Manager of SVG Publishers, Carl James, then gave guests a tour of the facility, during which copies of an 8-page newspaper, “SVG Publishers newsletter,” were distributed. The front page of the newspaper featured the printery’s opening ceremony, which had ended only minutes before.

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