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#394311 - 12/08/10 03:08 PM Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5
Marty Offline
Government Suspends Normal Relations with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions

-Press Release - Government of Belize - Belmopan, 7th December, 2010. The Belizean public is hereby informed that, effective immediately, the Government of Belize is suspending normal relations with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions.

The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Channel 5, the Ashcroft/Opposition Television Station, under its current owners and management, has wilfully and systematically violated the terms and conditions of its license under the Belize Broadcasting and Television Act which require that a station’s “news programs shall be broadcast in a professional, objective and impartial manner with a clear distinction between news reports on one hand and editorializing and commentaries on the other” (Clause 14), and that, “if in the process of editorializing of programs or otherwise the Licensee expresses any views or comments which may be considered uncomplimentary, detrimental or injurious to the character or interest of any person or body, he or she shall promptly provide such person or body on request a right of reply free of cost.”(Clause 15)

2. Channel 5 is the only local television station that has refused to air the government-produced video program, Belmopan Weekly. This is in clear violation of Clause 19 of the Belize Broadcasting & Television Act, Revised Edition 2000, Amended 2002, Revised Schedule of Terms and Conditions for On Air Television License, which unequivocally states, “The licensee shall provide to the government one hour per week broadcasting time, free of cost, for broadcasting public service messages and programs produced by or channelled through the Ministry of Information. The allocation of such time shall be determined by the Ministry of Information.”

3. The station has over the past two and a half years proceeded down a deliberate path to systematically undermine, not just the government, but the interest of the entire nation and its people. In the process, Channel 5 has wilfully sacrificed the established principles of objectivity, fair-play and balance in its news and other current affair programs.

4. Given the direction the station has taken in its news reporting and other programming, this government sees no value, purpose or justification in attempting to maintain with Channel 5 the kind of relationship it has sought to cultivate and nurture with all local media for the overall benefit and wellbeing of our nation and people.

The government’s suspension of normal relations with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions means that, effective immediately, no government representative of any ministry or department will give any official individual interview or make any individual appearance on Channel 5.

The government re-iterates its continued policy of seeking an open and respectful relationship with all our local media, and stands ready to resume normal relations with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions as soon as the station demonstrates a willingness to comply with the law and conform to the established standards and principles of fair and objective journalism and programming, as stipulated in the terms and conditions of its license under the Belize Broadcasting and Television Act.

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#394315 - 12/08/10 03:13 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
The Government of Belize has suspended normal relations with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions effective immediately. A release from the Govenrment press office gives four reasons for this action. One, that the media house under its current owners and management has wilfully and systematically violated the terms and conditions of its licence under the Belize Broadcasting and Television Act. Two, that it is the only local television station that has refused to air the government produced video program, Belmopan Weekly which is a violation of clause 19 of the Belize Broadcasting and Television Act. Three, the station has over the past two and a half years proceeded down a deliberate path of systematically undermine not just the government but the interest of the entire nation and its people. According to the release in the process Channel five has wilfully sacrificed the established principles of objectivity, fair play and balance in its news and other current affairs program. The final reason given for this drastic measure is that given the direction the station has taken in its news reporting and other programming, this government sees no value, purpose or justification in attempting to maintain with Channel five the kind of relationship it has sought to cultivate and nurture with all local media for the overall benefit and wellbeing of the nation and people. The suspension of relations means that effective immediately no government representative of any ministry or department will give any official individual interview or make any individual appearance on Channel five. The release ends by saying the government stands ready to resume normal relations with the media house as soon as it demonstrates a willingness to comply with the law and conform to the established standards and principles of fair and objective journalism and programming as stipulated in the terms and conditions of its licence under the Belize Broadcasting and Television Act. When we contacted CEO of Channel Five and Great Belize productions, Amalia Mai she said her staff has an obligation to the country and will continue with its programming.

LOVEFM

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#394319 - 12/08/10 03:19 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Government suspends normal relations with Channel Five

Following today’s Cabinet meeting, the government issued what it calls a press advisory to say that it is suspending normal relations with Channel Five/Great Belize Productions. It cited four reasons for doing so including what it claimed was a failure to air Belmopan Weekly. For the record, that program was in fact aired by this station. The following statement is issued in respect of government’s actions:

“Channel Five will continue to cover the news in a fair and objective manner. It is our obligation to the citizens of Belize to provide viewers with the information you need about the activities of the government. It is not our job to cover the government in the way it chooses or in a manner that does not reflect well on the truth.

In the course of doing our job, we will continue to cover the government’s action and efforts. We will endeavor to tell their side of the story, so that you can make informed decisions about government actions. There are many pressing issues facing Belize, and every citizen needs to be engaged in the debate and to understand how we, as a community, will face these issues. We will report the news and we will continue to present our other programs with the same objectivity that we have had.

If the government can take this action, it will have a chilling effect on the coverage of the news. In a democracy, the press has an important role in telling its viewers the news. Media coverage improves transparency in government. This action will have the opposite impact. If the government can take this action against Channel 5, they can take action against any news organization or reporter. Of course, this will decrease transparency in government and is not a wise step for a healthy democracy.”

Channel 5


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#394392 - 12/08/10 11:36 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
This is just an extension of the pissing match between the PM and Ashcroft. All this means is that GOB will not give interviews to Ch 5 and so, the Govts side of the story will not be included in ch 5 news pieces. We need opposition news organizations. Who else would have run down the recent immigration scandals associated with Min Perdomo, who by the way, won the challange by newcomer Roger Espejo for his seat by two to one. Remember, ch 7 is owned by Net Vasquez, a big UDP on the board of both Social Security and BTL and pushed thru the vote for SS to invest our $ in BTL stock. I think news and mananging director of Ch 7 news, Jules Vasquez, is great and consider him a good friend and give him tips all the time. Amalia Mai is the CEO of ch 5, also a very good friend and PUP soldier, who spend last weekend at my house for a wedding we both went to. We need ch 5 to go after the stories ch 7 won;t or can't. Also at issue is the building Ch 5 bought post Krohn and pre gob takeover of btl. And a whole lot of other things to numerous to detail..
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#394428 - 12/09/10 02:56 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Channel 5 responds to government advisory

The volume of support for this station has been overwhelming in the past twenty-four hours. As you know, Government on Tuesday announced what it says was a “suspension of normal relations with this station.” Since then the reaction has been fast and furious by our viewers at home and beyond our borders, including those international and regional affiliates with whom we are partners, on what is seen as a threat to the independence of the robust and independent media. In this context, we are writing to the government press office pointing out that their understanding of the factual position on the broadcast of the Belmopan Weekly is incorrect. We are drawing to their attention that the government has in fact misrepresented Clause 19 of the conditions of the License. Government writes that “the Licensee shall provide to the government one hour per week broadcasting time, free of cost, for broadcasting public service messages and programs produced by or channeled through the Ministry of Information. The allocation of such time shall be determined by the Ministry of Information.” What government did not say is that Clause 19 also states that “the actual time of broadcast should be determined in consultation with the Licensee.” What’s more, a copy of Belmopan Weekly was indeed and in fact aired by this station on the morning of Sunday, November twenty-first.

Channel 5


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#394429 - 12/09/10 02:58 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

VIP and PUP condemn government’s embargo of Channel 5

While the UDP administration institutes an embargo against Channel Five, the other two political parties have come up with statements condemning the actions of the government. Belmopan’s Vision Inspired by the People states that the government of Belize is not at liberty to discriminate as to which citizen gets public information in a specified manner and which does not. VIP views this move by the government to be an extremely dangerous precedent that must be reversed immediately.

The People’s United Party also condemned the action against one of the only two National Television Stations in Belize. Because the PUP sees government’s action as a vicious attempt to stifle freedom of the press, the party calls on the public to view this move by Government as a poorly masked attempt to suppress any criticism of Government’s action and in so doing monopolize and dictate fact based public opinion. The release ends by saying “We find it irreconcilable that the Government will suspend relations with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions at a time when this station is being rewarded internationally for excellence in journalism. We stand with the Belizean people in defense of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

The full text of the releases can be viewed on our website at channel5belize.com.


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#394453 - 12/09/10 10:07 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Short Offline
Not good. Opposition is an essential and healthy part of any democracy. I don't think it is the task of the government to choose who to report to and to who not.
_________________________
Live and let live

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#394475 - 12/10/10 01:55 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Short, I would be much more concerned as well if I thought this was about democracy. Its more petty/stupid than anything and not sure if this is from the PM or Delroy from the press office gone dumb. Toss in some arrogance too.
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#394488 - 12/10/10 03:20 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Francis Fonseca Says He’s No Friend Of Five, But Backs Them Up

Government's decision to suspend relations with Channel 5 - for government it was a no brainer: they say the Ashcroft-allied station is just another PUP party organ, but a number of organizations have come out against it.

Not surprisingly, the PUP condemns the decision and calls it a "vicious attempt to stifle freedom of the press." The television station owned by the Briceno family in Orange Walk, CTV-3 issued a statement saying, quote: "the…decision…can only be viewed as dangerous, retrogressive and an attack on our independence."

And while those releases were more or less to be expected, what caught us slightly off guard was a statement from PUP Deputy Leader (by acclamation) Francis Fonseca. While notbaly omitting any reference to himself as a PUP Deputy Leader, he states that, quote, "I raise my voice on this issue, even as I too am unwelcomed at Channel 5 because of a perceived view of my less than full support for the Leader of the Opposition."

Fonseca goes on to call it a: "misguided and dangerous precedent-setting decision"…. "a dangerous message and a perilous road for Belize to travel…"

He urges civic, business and religious leaders to let their voices be heard on the issue.

Channel 7


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#394491 - 12/10/10 03:25 PM Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
More organizations condemn Government’s actions against Channel 5

The Barrow administration has blocked public officers from communicating on an individual basis with Channel Five. As a result of the government embargo, they can’t communicate with us unless other media houses are present at public events. It sounds confusing and it is. The VIP and the PUP have both issued statements condemning the government’s move to stifle freedom of expression. Now an elected representative and another television station have come forward with support for Channel Five. Freetown Division representative Francis Fonseca sent a press release today stating that he “absolutely rejects and condemns this misguided and dangerous precedent-setting decision taken by our Government. Freedom of the Press is a fundamental pillar of a healthy and robust democracy contributing to greater accountability, better governance, and economic development. Restrictions on the media are generally an indication of a Government’s willingness to undermine and intimidate other democratic institutions and in this case displays a shocking lack of confidence in the Belizean people by our Government.” Fonseca made it very clear that he did not perceive the station as a PUP station as Barrow would have the public believe. In fact Fonseca says “I raise my voice on this issue, even as I too am unwelcomed at Channel 5 because of a perceived view of my less than full support for the Leader of the Opposition.” That’s quite a claim coming from a PUP. Fonseca concluded by urging civic, businesses and religious leaders to let their voices be heard on this issue and to stand firmly on the side of freedom of the press.

The Orange Walk station CTV-3, which is owned by the family of the Leader of the Opposition, has also come out in support of Channel Five. CTV’s statement says that the attempt to censor or control a private and independent media house in any way is contemptible and cannot be supported or tolerated. The current administration’s recent decision against Channel 5 can only be viewed as dangerous, retrogressive and an attack on our independence and right to inform the Belizean public. CTV-3 News calls on the Government of Belize to reconsider and reverse its position, and to find, in the spirit of democracy, transparency and good governance, a more amicable way of resolving its issues with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions. Both letters can be viewed at our website, Channel5belize.com.

Channel 5

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