..has the private media been barred from tourism related events?
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - IN what has been described as a growing trend in the tourism circle, the Media Association of St. Kitts and Nevis (MASKN) is calling on the relevant authorities to desist from not inviting independent media agencies to provide coverage of events within that sector.
This situation has forced the Media Association to raise concern over the treatment of media houses in what may have been a policy shift by the current administration.
“The Media Association of St. Kitts and Nevis brings to the attention of the general public a practice that has been adopted by the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and International Transport, under whose authority lies the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA), in which the private sector news media have been deliberately excluded from covering significant events at the ports, a trend that was observed since 2023,” a statement from the Media Association read.
At play is the concern that a number of major events have been undertaken in the Federation, but private media houses were not given formal invitations to cover those events.
Many of those events had occurred in 2023, with only the Government Information Service (SKNIS) and the National broadcaster (ZBC) being formally invited.
In a statement sent to the Line Minister, Marsha Henderson, the Association questioned whether it was a new policy adopted by the administration to exclude the private media from covering events at both ports of entry - the air and sea.
“Previously, the private sector news media were invited to cover major events at both the Robert L Bradshaw International Airport and at the Port Zante cruise ship facility. Media houses that intended to be present were required to submit particulars ahead of the arrival of new ships and new airlines coming into these two mentioned ports. Currently, this has stopped without any communications with the local news media,” noted the MASKN.
The latest snub came yesterday (Jan. 30) when no media agency was given a request to cover a ceremony for the arrival of the Icon of the Sea, or were they given any additional information on when it would be docking.
In a recent interview with the media, when asked by SKNVibes News about the ship’s arrival, Minister Henderson confirmed that the vessel would be docking at Pier 2 but raised concerns about COVID, which has been present among some cruise passengers recently.
Some reporters and media agencies are concerned about the lack of information because they are affiliate partners with regional and international agencies with which they have to provide coverage.
“The Media Association has carefully noted the change and has confirmed that no private sector news media received an invitation to cover major events of the above ministry since 2023, except for press conferences.
“Several attempts to contact the Management of SCASPA regarding events that took place at the air and sea ports on St. Kitts, to obtain an explanation, have not been successful. The Association recently wrote to the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and International Transport to confirm if this is now the official policy of the Ministry. The Association awaits a response from the Minister,” the statement noted.
The MASKN noted that “the Ministry did not communicate, at any time, with the private sector news media about any change in coverage policies, or restrictions, since the current administration took office”.
“The Media Association of St. Kitts and Nevis finds this anti-news media policy to be unacceptable, an affront to the citizens and residents of the Federation, and certainly counterproductive in the context of transparency, accountability and democracy.”
The body ended its press statement emphasizing that it “remains open for discussion of this matter with the relevant authorities”.