ST. JOHN’S, Antigua-THE censorship of Antiguan and Barbudan airwaves may be just around the corner, as Government recently announced that it is pursuing research on the implementation of a Broadcasting Commission.
According to the Antigua Sun, “the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunications is conducting in-depth research into regional Broadcasting Commissions with the view to preparing a white paper” in the near future.
The ministry would study Broadcasting Commissions throughout the Caribbean and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Broadcasting Draft Act enacted by Caricom to determine how to implement such an initiative in Antigua-Barbuda.
An official speaking to the Sun under condition of anonymity said that all media in the country would have to be brought under standards and sanctions to ensure that questionable material was removed from the airwaves.
“What I also find a little amazing is this happens quite a lot on talk radio. A man may say something almost libelous [and] it’s taken as a joke, and there’s no sanction, no censorship, especially when you have the phone-in programmes. The man dem say anything – it’s like the host doesn’t cut them off,” the official said.
If the Broadcasting Commission were to be implemented, it would likely be self-regulated by members, rather than have the Government decided on what is suitable and what is not the official added.
Telecommunications Officer Clement Samuel said that any commission put in place in Antigua would likely reference similar measures enacted recently in Jamaica and Dominica.
“Here in Antigua we have absolutely nothing so someone could say anything on air. A commission would need some sort of teeth, some sort of authority to hold them to account,” Samuel said. “We need ground rules and ways to ensure people stick to those ground rules.”