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Ex-diplomat makes call for regional TV, radio station

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26.MAY.06

EDITOR: A strong call has been made for the Caribbean region to have its own radio and television station in order to promote the closer integration of the region through effective communication.

The plea came from a business executive and writer, former diplomat and broadcaster Sir Ronald Sanders when he urged the shareholders of Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) to float CMC as a public company on the stock exchanges within CARICOM to give Caribbean people an opportunity to invest in it with the finance that could help launch an integrated pan-Caribbean radio and TV network.{{more}}

Sir Ronald, in a stirring presentation at the 30th anniversary of the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, lamented the bitter daily reality of Caribbean people knowing more about events in the USA and Britain than what they should about neighbouring states of the Caribbean community. He pointed out that “Caricom leaders have not mounted information and educational programmes designed to explain these developments to the population of the Caribbean community.”

He referred to a statement made by the distinguished Guyanese diplomat and writer, Lloyd Searwar just before his death last month that the “deliberate use of the communications media is of vital importance because Caricom is a unique experiment in integration among more contiguous territories in which member states are divided by the seas and maybe a few a bit further,” referring to Belize and Bahamas.

Touching on CSME, the former head of CANA said that the Single Market is about providing opportunities for Caribbean companies, professionals and others to take advantage of a larger economic space and emphasized that by investing in a public company that serves to promote the closer integration of the region through effective communication, they will be investing in the success of their own businesses. Beyond these benefits would be a valuable proposition to investors. He added that “the potential to earn Caribbean-wide advertising revenues and income from the sale of TV channel to TV stations both within the Caribbean and externally is great.”

The well-known Guyanese-born broadcaster/diplomat added that he is fearful that if the opportunity is not seized by the shareholders of CMC, a foreign company will take advantage of the rights of establishment being created by WTO fill gap. Consequently, regional information flow may fall to the ownership of a foreign company whose purpose may not be consistent with the objective of promoting strong Caribbean personality and strong regional action.

Therefore, he urged the directors of CANA and CBU, the shareholders of CMC, to take regional communications to a new level by exploring the feasibility of launching a public company that provides a pan Caricom radio and television network, including news broadcast and analysis, which reaches daily and simultaneously into homes of our Caricom family.

The presentation was well received, but it was poorly attended and as well known Caribbean journalist, Rickey Singh, put it, “The paucity of the audience was a crying shame,” and blamed the local media for failure to promote an event assumed to be of much relevance to the media people themselves, as well as representatives of the private and public sectors and members of the public at a time of oft expressed concerns about how we communicate with each other as peoples of an envisaged seamless regional economy.

Harold Hoyte, president and editor-in-chief of the Nation company in Barbados, stressed his disappointment at the poor attendance for what was a well-researched, scholarly and eloquent presentation.

Oscar Ramjeet

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