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Exposing the one- eyed view on media legislation

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Tue, Feb 28. 2012

Editor: In your February 14, 2012, SEARCHLIGHT Midweek edition, I took Jeanell James to task for attempting to stir fear in the hearts of Vincentians for attacking the proposed new media legislation, even before seeing a draft. I was compelled to do so because she built her argument on the issue of freedom of speech, in isolation of other important components of media legislation, such as ownership of media to support competition;{{more}} the establishing of fair conditions to have access to the media; universal access to telecommunication services; intellectual property; electromagnetic spectrum; and the convergence of traditional media on the Internet.

For encouraging the nation and her to extensively analyze the issue of media legislation, she berated me in your last publication, accusing me of lacking a sound knowledge on the issue. That’s okay. My response to her attack is this: who would the public trust on affairs of the media? Hawkins Nanton, who has been living and breathing media and communications since December 12, 1995, and worked as a journalist until July 2011, both in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica; who has been trained by the late professors, Rex Nettleford and Aggrey Brown, and was last employed as a newspaper editor. Someone who has sucessfully pursued a diploma in Print and Online Journalism, along with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media and Communication and now a Master of Arts Communication in Canada, courtesy the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, taxpayers of my country, the Organization of American States (OAS), and my own investment.

That is my record. I must now ask, would the public take the word of someone whose only claim to fame is a display of a highly erratic and irrational behaviour just a few years ago at one of our institutions? If Vincentians were to know the full extent of that behaviour, that is what will be considered zany. I choose not to say more at this time.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, while the print and television broadcast media have done a fairly good job at self-regulation, it is evident that radio broadcast media has a long way to go in lifting its standards. While the citizenry wait for that to happen, many are defamed on talk-show radio; expletives can be heard at times blasting the airwaves in some hip-hop songs; and disc jockeys continue to promote a gang culture with some dance hall songs – songs that cannot be played on Jamaica radio airwaves. Against such backdrop and what I have mentioned before, the state has the right to put checks and balances in place to lift the standards of broadcast media. Secondly, it is evident that the liberation of the media during the mid-1990s was not well planned.

This nation will not benefit from a fettered view of the issues surrounding media legislation. My only conclusion is that you come under the title of protector of rights and freedoms, but you only do so in the absence of the framework of responsibilities. This is highly irresponsible. I will call on the “wannabe media experts” to stop taking a one-eyed view on matters of the media. In addition, being able to express one’s self using the media does not equate to one being an expert on any matter!

Hawkins Nanton

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