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Of Broadcast Licenses and Press Freedom

Dean Rudolph Smithen, Dr. Edmond Mansoor, Pastor Paul Andrew and Daryl JacksonAntigua St. john's - The topic of freedom of the press was raised as the government issued FM broadcast licenses to two church groups during a brief ceremony on Monday at the GATE ICT training facility.

Minister of Telecommunications, Science, and Technology Dr Edmond Mansoor presented the Cabinet-approved licenses to Pastor Paul Andrew of St John’s Christian Assembly Ministries and Dean Rudolph Smithen of the Anglican Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba.

Dr Mansoor reminded his audience of the media's struggles during the reign of the Antigua Labour Party, now rebranded the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party.

The Telecommunications minister contrasted the suppression of the press prior to 2004 - before the United Progressive Party took office - to today’s liberal media.



“I would like to single out the role the late Samuel 'Fergie' Derrick played in ensuring that ordinary Antiguans & Barbudans can have a voice," he said. “You would recall that the broadcast equipment that was owned by the Derricks was seized by the state machinery at the time under police watch. Strangely, the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal did not find favour with the Observer Group and it took a landmark and historic decision by the Privy Council to ensure that the radio airwaves did not belong to any one outfit - whether it be a political outfit, a cultural outfit, or a religious outfit.”

He recalled, “There was ZDK and Sun FM, ABS TV and Radio, and the Government Information Service (GIS), all of which were owned by one and the same and operated by one and the same. I am very pleased to be associated with an administration that has seen it fit to have a very liberal policy to the granting of broadcast licenses."

Dr Mansoor, a champion in the country’s push for full internet access and a revolutionized telecommunication sector, spoke of the government’s added roles.

“There is no longer a monopoly on the cable TV market,” he said. “We have two major active players -  CTV and Karib Cable, now operated by FLOW and Columbus Communications. It is this administration that licensed Karib Cable and brought an end to the monopoly in the cable industry.”

He also addressed the break up of a number of monopoly markets that existed before 2004.

“There is no longer a monopoly in the international direct telephony market, so when you are placing overseas calls you certainly have a choice, especially from your mobile phone,” Dr Mansoor said. “Because of the ending of that monopoly regime, rates have been reduced dramatically. There is no monopoly in the cellular market. This is a very liberal market with several competing entities. The same applies to internet service providers. There is APUA Inet, Lime, ACT, Digicel and others."

The minister said that recently, the government also granted FM radio broadcast licences to the Caribbean Super Station, formerly Gem Radio, and to a group of young Antiguans, Smash Broadcasting.

The St John’s Christian Assembly Ministries will broadcast from 105.7 FM under the banner Prayer Radio.Pastor Andrews said the station's main focus will be on prayer.

The Diocese of NECA Anglican Radio will broadcast from 90.1 FM and Dean Smithen said the main purpose will be to declare the good news and encourage discussions on social and theological issues while enhancing moral values within the communities.
 

Reporting by Caribarena news, publishing by Ofer Shaked.


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3 Comments In This Article   

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@ Daryl Jackson

#3 Meigo Man » 2014-05-27 07:29

Daryl you had to wear that blue shirt? Pity...is it poor taste - or a cheap statement?

As for the two Pastors, this is a new one...selling your soul for a Radio Licence!
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Meigo Man

We Already Know!

#2 Legacy » 2014-05-27 07:24

Two UPP Pastors...long time supporters!
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Legacy

Farewell Party or endorsement?

#1 ABLP Diehard » 2014-05-27 04:44

What else was left undone? Fare thee well too Mansour.
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ABLP Diehard

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