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Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/08/10 03:08 PM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/08/10 03:13 PM

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
Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/08/10 03:19 PM

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

Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/08/10 11:36 PM

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..
Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/09/10 02:56 PM

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

Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/09/10 02:58 PM

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.

Posted By: Short

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/09/10 10:07 PM

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.
Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/10/10 01:55 PM

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.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/10/10 03:20 PM

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

Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/10/10 03:25 PM

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
Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/10/10 03:33 PM

GOB Says Channel 5 Now A PUP Party Organ

Yesterday government made an unprecedented announcement; that it is suspending normal relations with Channel 5. The directive is 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.

Government says Channel 5 has failed to live up to the terms of its license which require that its news be, quote: "objective and impartial… (ensuring) a right of reply." Government says it has been denied that right of reply and so it's pulling the plug on Channel 5.

A blockade of an entire media house seems to be uncharted territory - but today the Minister of Information John Saldivar told us via phone that it's nothing new; it is simply that channel 5 will now be treated as a party organ of the PUP:…

Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of information
"At this present time they are an organ of the People's United Party and again although Channel 5 does not openly admit this because of the nature of their ownership and the relationship between the owners and the current leader of the People's United Party and their determination to undermine this government, we are of the opinion that Channel 5 has become an official organ of the People's United Party."

Jules Vasguez
"This suspension on normal relations, how do you enforce that without throttling the free flow of information and the fact that public information needs to get out, needs to be ventilated."

Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of information
"I think if you go back to what I have said, the relationship will be no different from that which prevails with the Belize Times and the Vibes Radio so that it's simply that Channel 5 is now being considered an organ of the People's United Party. All the regular mundane correspondences, press releases that go out to continue to be issued to the public as per normal. We are simply saying that in terms of special courtesies with respect to personal interviews - exclusive interviews and reports that we will not treat with Channel 5 as we do the rest of the media and certainly we will treat with Channel 5 as we do the Belize Times and Vibes Radio."

Jules Vasguez
"But looking specifically at the wording of the release, it says "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." How does this work, let's say for the Met Service which gives hurricane updates or extreme weather updates or the police department which gives public information on criminal activity. Will those people, those departments, will they not give individual interviews to channel 5?"

Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of information
"I am simply saying that the methods used by those departments in terms of disseminating public information will continue to prevail, so any public information that is sent out to any other media will continue to be sent out to all media."

Jules Vasguez
However, I spoke to Fitzroy Yearwood just now, he is the police press officer, he indicated that he will no longer be giving individual interviews to channel 5. He will take questions in a group or at a press conference."

Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of information
"And precisely Jules, that's what we are precisely saying that whatever information or whatever medium is used to communicate information to the media in a public manner is how it will continue to be with respect to all media not just Channel 5. Personal interviews, exclusive interviews or courtesies, those will no longer be extended to Channel 5. They will get their news and their releases and their information in the same manner that all other media get their information."

Jules Vasguez
"I don't understand your interpretation of 'courtesies.' I am not seeing an interview with the Met Department when a storm is approaching as a courtesy, I see it as a public information necessity."

Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of information
"And where it is categorized as a public relations necessity I am sure the appropriate action will be taken, I am simply saying to you that where it is considered a courtesy and not something of public importance in terms of a disaster, certainly we will use the regular chains of communications. If they can show that they are not totally biased and without any consideration for objectivity - an official organ of the People's United Party - I am sure that the government will be prepared to look at it. Similarly and I continue to ask the question, are we expected as government ministers to do interviews for Vibes Radio or Belize Times and I am sure your answer to that will be no and so unless we believe that Channel 5 is not an organ of the People's United Party I don't see why we should treat them any differently from how we do the Belize Times or Vibes Radio."

Jules Vasguez
"How would it work with the government press conferences or with the Prime Minister's press conferences? Will this, media house be invited to the press conference? Will questions be taken from them?"

Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of information
"I am sure you are aware that employees of Vibes Radio do attend Prime Minister's press conferences and are allowed to ask questions, however stupid they may be."

Jules Vasguez
"Is it somewhat uncomfortable for the government to have to take a position like this?"

Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of information
"We are not uncomfortable any at all about taking this position; we believe it has to be made clear in the minds of the Belizean people exactly the agenda that the Channel 5 people are pushing."

Government's position is that Channel 5 can remedy the situation if the complies with the law and conforms to the established standards and principles of fair and objective journalism and programming.

Channel 7

Posted By: Short

Re: Belize gov't muzzles TV station - 12/11/10 07:27 AM

Jamaica Observer:
Belize gov't muzzles TV station

Friday, December 10, 2010

BELIZE CITY, Belize (CMC) — The main opposition People's United Party (PUP) in Belize as well as a smaller group, the Vision Inspired by the People (VIP), have come out strongly against a government decision to boycott Belize's largest television station, Great Belize Television which broadcasts on channel 5.

In an unprecedented move, government announced Tuesday following a cabinet meeting that: "effective immediately, the Government of Belize is suspending normal relations with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions".

It means that no government employee or minister of government will give any interviews to the station or appear on any programme produced by Great Belize Productions.

The government also claims that Channel 5 has violated the terms of its license by not airing the government produced current affairs programme Belmopan Weekly, a claim the station has refuted.

The announcement issued by the Office of the Prime Minster said the reason for severing ties with Channel 5 was that government considered Channel 5 to be hostile to the Dean Barrow administration.

The government is accusing Channel 5 of "systematically, over the last two-and-a-half years, undermining not only the government, but the interests of the entire nation".

It said the channel had sacrificed the principles of objectivity, fair play and balance in its news reporting and other programmes.

Given that stinging indictment, the government said it saw no reason to continue relations with Channel 5, adding that under the current ownership and management, there is no value or justification to maintain relations with the station, which has been in operation for the last 19 years.

The station is currently owned by British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, with whom the Barrow administration has been in a fierce war since the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) took office in February 2008.

The station's day-to-day operation is managed by chief executive officer Amalia Mai-Rancharan, a former ambassador to Cuba.

In a strongly worded statement issued Wednesday, the main opposition PUP condemned the Government's decision. The PUP said the action can only be seen as "a vicious attempt to stifle freedom of the press".

PUP Leader John Briceño called for Belizeans to take the move by government as "a poorly masked attempt to suppress any criticism of Government's action and in so doing monopolise and dictate fact based public opinion".

The PUP maintains that if there was any legitimacy to the accusations by the UDP administration against Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions, the appropriate action should have been to lodge complaints with the Belize Broadcasting Authority.

This was not done and the PUP in its official release said "what the Government has done is to displace the functions of the Belize Broadcasting Authority and unilaterally, without processes of the law, installed themselves as judge and jury in this matter".

In a statement Tuesday, Great Belize Productions said: "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."


Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Belize-gov-t-muzzles-TV-station_8223513#ixzz17mXIRJoV
Posted By: Marty

Re: Belize gov't muzzles TV station - 12/11/10 03:15 PM

Join the masses in denouncing the Action of this UDP Government for press freedom! Join the massive outcry and forward the email below -

Dear friends,

The massive government campaign of intimidation, now, against Channel 5 by suspending 'normal relations' with this local television station is sending a chill through free press advocates everywhere.

Legal experts say Channel 5 has likely not broken any laws. Yet the UDP Government has called it a station that “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 willfully sacrificed the established principles of objectivity, fair-play and balance in its news and other current affair programs, the statement said.” But Channel 5 is only publishing news information it has gathered and thoroughly vetted. And as to the “Belmopan Weekly” Program in question, this was aired by the station albeit it being considered a UDP party political propaganda program and not a Government of Belize information program.

This action by the UDP Government is viewed as a vile attack on the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Belize Constitution. This latest move by the UDP Government is an attack on democracy. We urgently need a public outcry for freedom of the press and expression.

Forward this email to everyone – let us get the word out… it's up to the public to stand up for our democratic rights to a free press and freedom of expression. Never has there been a more vital time for us to do so.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Belize gov't muzzles TV station - 12/15/10 03:51 PM

Belizeans for Justice tells Gov’t to lift ban on free media

Ever since the government suspended “normal relations” with Channel Five, numerous organizations have been quick to strengthen its bond with this independent station. They have generally expressed concern about the Cabinet decision to punish this media house for expressing views that the government would rather remain hidden. The Caribbean Broadcasting on Monday said the unilateral withdrawal will only serve to unbalance the media landscape, by the Government denying itself the opportunity to have its positions represented to the people of Belize through this important media house. This afternoon, well known NGO, Belizeans For Justice took time out to show solidarity for Channel Five which has often aired the concerns of its members.

Yolanda Schakron, Member, Belizeans For Justice

Yolanda Schakron

“Belizeans For Justice today is issuing a press release because we feel that the suspension of relationships with Channel Five by the government is totally unacceptable. In a democratic system, we need the media. Freedom of speech is very, very important. We believe that there are other media houses that are out there breaking a lot of the rules that should be adhered to. So we believe that it should be equal down the line. We have worked closely with Channel Five. Our association is about freedom and justice for all Belizeans and the media serves as an outlet for us to get our stories out there. We believe that when a government is starting to interfere with media houses, I believe that that is something that every Belizean should be very concerned about and we should not let this be forgotten or lie low about it. We see that right now Channel Five can’t interview government employees and that is wrong because they have a right to speak out too. To me it’s like they are saying look, if you go against what I believe ina, you will get fired. And that is a form of victimization, I believe. I believe it is a form of instilling fear in a society and we dah wah free society. We dah wah democratic nation.”

Joan Sutherland

Joan Sutherland, Member, Belizeans For Justice

“I supported my organization Belizeans for Justice one hundred percent. For me Channel Five was my voice when I got all my threats. Channel Five was the one that I can say spoke for me because all my threats have stopped and I hope it will continue being my voice.”

Oscar Rosado, Member, Belizeans For Justice

Oscar Rosado

“We are about Justice on a whole and Channel Five allowed most of our members when we have looked for Channel Five to express our freedom of speech. Never have they asked us what political party we support. Everything I think Channel Five has invested in our community, educating our people, doing programs for our people and nothing political. I think today we should be congratulating and handing over a prize over to Channel Five for what they have done for the Belizean public. And the injustice that is being done, we condemn it here as Belizeans for Justice today. So Channel Five, keep on the good work and we’ll be behind you one hundred percent, the Belizean People.”

Also joining in the rejection of the ban, Glenn Tillett a veteran journalist of four decades, also sent a release, saying “it can serve no good in any way when the institution of government, administered by those who have sworn a sacred duty to serve all equitably without fear or favor so blatantly admit to policies of discrimination, victimization and division.” Tillett also called on the Prime Minister to rescind or retract the policy and that the Belize Broadcasting Authority should stop abdicating its duty as the agency with the constitutional duty for the regulation of the broadcasting industry.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/17/10 03:14 PM

Editorial - Censoring the Press
San Pedro Sun

On December 7th the Government of Belize (GOB) issued a press release stating, "The Belizean public is hereby informed that, effective immediately, the Government of Belize is suspending normal relations with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions." In the press release, a litany of Belize Broadcasting and Television Act violations were listed, but to a watchful eye it is easy to read between the lines; the GOB doesn't want their dirty laundry aired.

Hours later, media houses across the country were buzzing and statements countrywide were being released denouncing the Government's stance against Channel 5. The PUP Opposition and CTV-3, to name a few, were fast to denounce the GOB's blatant voice against the freedom of press, purporting the virtues of a free democracy and the essential part the press plays in it. There is no doubt that the outcry against the GOB press release is more than valid, and few would argue that the GOB was justified in taking such a stance against one of the most prominent media houses in the country. Although the issue of media censorship is a hot topic right now, the truth of the matter is that on a daily basis, media houses across the country struggle with maintaining their freedom of press "privilege", and in San Pedro it is no different.

A day rarely goes by when The San Pedro Sun is not subjected to requests to edit our news. From the pot head who's been busted and does not want his name to be printed in the police report, to the local official caught in a "compromising" situation, to the resort manager who has had a questionable death on his property; they come into our office or call, begging, pleading, bribing, sometimes threatening to withhold their ‘precious' advertising dollars, even threatening bodily harm in a effort to CENSOR the news we are committed to printing. The bullying starts from the little man on up, so why should we be surprised when the GOB does the same thing? It is ironic how the people speak in favor of FREEDOM OF PRESS, only when it does not include THEIR bad news.

Over the years The San Pedro Sun has been threatened bodily harm after printing unsavory articles about certain island residents. Over the years The San Pedro Sun has lost valuable customers who have pulled their advertising dollars after we reported their accidents, indiscretions and even deaths that implicate their businesses. Over the years The San Pedro Sun has lost cherished friendships with lifelong friends after reporting on their "misfortune."

It's tough when we have to make the choice over news and our friends, advertisers and even family at times, but how can we maintain our reputation as fair and unbiased media house, if on every occasion the relationship at hand outweighs the news our readers deserve to know? It's tough when that longtime friend will no longer look at you on the street and its tough when that longtime advertiser will no longer return your calls, and yes it's tough when you have to watch over your shoulder when someone has threatened to shoot you after they have been exposed in a news story.

Ultimately, each and every one of these people or businesses has taken it upon themselves to censor the news in order to conceal the truth. How is that any different from the GOB's stance? On one hand, the people demand that the press have the right to freely print the news, where on the other hand, if it's not to their liking it should end up on the editing floor? This double-standard is a dangerous attitude that threatens the essence of democracy and the freedom of press should be protected regardless of who the ugly story is about.



Posted By: elbert

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/17/10 07:05 PM

The San Pedro Sun sounds like a real newspaper.
If you think about all the names newspapers choose for themselves through out the history of newspapers you'll begin to see what newspapers are supposed to be doing for the people they serve.
Heralds and Posts are popular but Beacons, Sentinel, Voice, Star, Watchman, Sentry and Bugle indicate more of the job they have taken on.
The Sun Shines on darkness and brings into light.


Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/18/10 03:11 PM

COLA’s President explains why the government ban on Channel 5 should be lifted

At the heart of the issue is the freedom of the press. On Thursday, the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), also sent its support to end the ban on Channel Five. COLA’s President, Moses Sulph explained why.

Moses Sulph, President of COLA

Moses Sulph

“Basically the press release is clearly condemning government decision to suspend normal relations with regards to Channel Five. We believe that it is not democratic to do such moves. I mean, freedom of the press should be granted and respected. And the other way around also, the press should respect what they are reporting. But at the same time, we want to be clear at COLA, that all we are doing is trying to be balanced and objective in what we are saying in that we cannot accept or allow such moves. I think there is better amicable solution to the problem that just suspending normal relation. Because we also are very cognizant that Channel Five and other media houses have to cover news that is much worthy to the Belizean population. If you look at Youth for the Future, Women Department; those are information that is necessary to the general population. And on a whole, we look to the media houses to get us certain information. So we think that there should be some other avenues the government should take rather than suspending relationship with Channel Five.”

Jose Sanchez

“If this is continued, would it not also allow a different elected government to maybe do the same thing to another media house?”

Moses Sulph

“Exactly. As we pointed out in our press release, this is a precedence that should not be set. And that is why we are also calling on GOB to reconsider its decision because it is a precedent that is not proper to be set at this time. Because if you set this precedent, even though I believe it to not be democratic, then you know, in the future it opens ways for other governments to say ‘listen, this government did it now we can do it’ which I believe is totally against what I believe is, you know, freedom of the press.”

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/18/10 03:11 PM

Barrow says he doesn’t want Channel 5’s license terminated

Following today’s House meeting, the Prime Minister, was asked about his decision to impose censorship on Channel Five. He provided a lengthy reply which we carry in full.

Dean Barrow

“Well they’re here, aren’t they?”

Patrick Jones

“Is that a reconsideration of that ending of normal relations?”

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“Well, not at this time, but let’s be clear as to what the government has done. Channel Five is not being locked out of any kind of public space that’s controlled by the government. The clerk said to me this morning, well, “Is Channel Five allowed into the House?” Absolutely. Their programme, what’s it called? That they use the Bliss Centre for – nobody’s going to deny them their access to the Bliss. In a context like this, nobody’s going to say – I’m not going to say I’m not going to talk to the Channel Five representatives. But I do maintain that I’ll give no personal, individual interview to Channel Five and that is the position of all the Ministers. And I do maintain that members of the government are not to do it except in obvious circumstances. This is not black and white. Somebody me whether people can’t talk to Channel Five about the weather. That would be ridiculous. I am open with the press and I have nothing to hide. But Channel 5 has been terribly unfair, terribly – when it comes to the way they treat the government – unprofessional. I don’t care about their political agenda, but in the same way as Belize Times and Vibes Radio, don’t seek interviews with us. If Channel Five will operate in the same way, then they ought not to seek interviews with us, and if they do, we will not give those interviews. I had thought, while Channel Five clearly has an agenda, that they would make some attempt to be reasonably balanced where reporting on government news was concerned. That was not the case and I really felt that this move was necessary to let the public know that Channel Five can’t have it both ways. It can’t be operating under the guise of a professional, independent news outfit when it is so clearly engaging in an absolutely biased agenda. Once that is out there, we can go back to seeing how we can do business. The C.B.U., I think in their statement said they would be happy to attempt some kind of mediation. I’ve told the Minister of Foreign Affairs call C.B.U. They want to send somebody to talk to you or they want to arrange for some meeting when you’re in the Caribbean. We’ll be very happy to let them sit down with the government and Channel Five and if they can produce some kind of commitment on the part of Channel Five to be reasonably fair, while continue to some extent with their political agenda, that is their right. If C.B.U. can produce that, we would be happy to go back to where we were before. In the meantime, Channel Five has a right to its political agenda; we have a right to our position, that as long as that political agenda is so obvious and uncompromising we will not do individual interviews with them.”

Marion Ali

“Just in the interest of answering the questions in the minds of our viewers where we breached or we violated some regulation. We’ve heard the response from our C.E.O., Miss Amalia Mai, and we’ve heard the allegations by the government. Can you please tell us…”

Dean Barrow

“You know the point was made in one of the releases that was put out that if Channel Five is in violation of the Act then a complaint should be made to the Broadcasting Authority. Certainly in terms of the refusal initially to air the government programme, to give us the hour that the law obliges Channel Five to give, a complaint could have been made to the Broadcasting Association. Channel Five must realize that we are adopting a far softer approach. If you complain to the Broadcasting Authority, sorry, you’re asking for sanctions to be imposed. You’re asking perhaps for the revocation of a license to be contemplated. That I will not do. I will never make that complaint because I do not want to see Channel Five’s license terminated, even if Channel 5 is in clear violation of the law. I don’t want to see their license terminated. So please, recognize that while you might not like the position we’ve taken, that’s an extremely soft position, merely to say to you we noh di give yoh individual interviews, but not to be extreme, not to be rude, not to try to lock you out. Very, very soft approach.”

There are two issues that we wish to respond to. Firstly, the PM claims that we have treated the government terribly and that we are unprofessional. We take issue with that statement because in our news gathering, we have always sought to get the two sides of the coin. In many instances government ministers have denied us interviews and certainly the government can never say that we have ever denied them a right of reply. Quite the contrary, they have always had access to this station. Secondly, the Prime Minister is complaining that we were in breach of the conditions of the license because we did not carry Belmopan Weekly. For clarity, we have broadcasted that program even though the terms of the license state that the time of broadcast has to be done in consultation with us. Even when that did not happen, we carried the program. This information was provided to the press office and copied to the Broadcasting Authority and we do not agree that we have breached the conditions of license. Still yet, we are open to any discussions on this issue. We’ll have more on the House later in this newscast.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/23/10 03:42 PM

GOB: Rapprochement with Channel 5?

Last Friday at the House Of Representatives we got the indication that Government was softening its hardline position towards Channel 5 - when the Prime Minister indicated that he was open to mediation from the Caribbean Broadcasting Union. We understand that was offered through mediation by former CBU president and former Channel 5 Managing Director Stewart Krohn. But it seems it won't be needed - at least not yet.

That's because tomorrow the Prime Minister will have a personal meeting with Channel 5 CEO Amalia Mai to discuss their differences.

PM Barrow this evening told us that the meeting was agreed to after Mai wrote him asking about a way forward in view of his comments at the house meeting. The PM said he wrote back saying he would be agreeable to a meeting - and after some back and forth it was agreed they would met without a mediator in Belize City tomorrow. We'll tell you how that goes in our next newscast….

Channel 7
Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/24/10 03:28 PM

Government Embargo against Channel 5 to be lifted

Both this station and government have agreed on a way forward to resolve a two week impasse. On December seventh, the government imposed a ban preventing ministers and more than twelve thousand government employees from giving interviews to this station. On the local scene, it was met with disapproval by many quarters including the political parties, non-governmental organizations and ordinary Belizeans. The censorship was also opposed by the Caribbean Broadcasting Union and international groups such as the Committee for the Protection of Journalists and The Heritage Foundation. But Channel Five and the government each held their positions until today when Channel Five’s CEO, Amalia Mai and Prime Minister Dean Barrow sat down and discussed a way out. The discussions were frank and cordial and a number of issues were cleared up. Following the discussions, the Prime Minister said he will recommend that normal relations be resumed with this media house.

Dean Barrow

“It was a very useful, very constructive, very cordial meeting. I have agreed on the basis of the discussion we had and on the basis of the CEO Mai’s assurances to me. I have undertaken to, at the first cabinet meeting in the New Year, which takes place on the Tuesday of the first working week, ask cabinet to agree to the resumption of normal relations with Channel Five. I will take the position at that meeting that this should be done. I only don’t say that we can do it immediately because I do have to get the support of cabinet. But you will see from what I’ve said that it was a very, very constructive meeting indeed.”

Jose Sanchez

“Regarding the government program, will it be aired on Channel Five?”

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“Which government program?”

Jose Sanchez

“The weekly program was mentioned in the previous release?”

Dean Barrow

“Yes, indeed. The CEO has made it clear that that is not a problem.”

Jose Sanchez

“Was there anything that was proven to be wrong within the previous relations?

Dean Barrow

“Well, Miss Mai is, as you know, a very accomplished diplomat and Miss Mai would not in a normal course concede any fault. And I don’t think we want to belabor that particular issue. Let us just say that while we also insisted that we thought, or we saw fault, we have agreed to move on. And there is a commitment on both sides to operate on a basis of mutual respect and on the basis of fair and balance coverage on the part of Channel Five which is indicating that it is not going to do anything to compromise its position that it is a professional operation, a professional outfit that will be guided by a commitment to the canons of the journalism profession. So, I am happy with that and as I said, I am perfect to recommend to cabinet, that we resume normal relations.”

Jose Sanchez

“When resumed, should we maybe see more of you perhaps even on the Five Morning Show?”

Dean Barrow

“Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. Clearly as we go along, I’m sure Miss Mai will be looking to see that I keep my word and I will be looking to see that she keeps her word. But I feel that we’ve both spoken and acted in good faith at this meeting. So, nothing is ever completely trouble free, nothing is ever without differences of opinions; nothing is ever without different points. But I believe that we will move forward ultimately on this basis of mutual respect.”

All the told, the PM gave his assurances that he will get the support of Cabinet to lift the suspension on this station. We’ll have his take on the freedom of the Press in Friday’s newscast.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 12/24/10 03:29 PM

GOB: Cabinet Will Review Channel 5 Position

Government said it was suspending normal relations with Channel 5 two weeks ago - but last week, the Prime Minister indicated that might be a softening of that hardline when he invited the Caribbean Broadcasting Union to mediate.

Things moved on from there and no mediator was necessary when Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with Channel 5's CEO, Amalia Mai in the government's suite at the Whitfield Tower on Coney Drive today.

And meaningful progress towards a resolution was made. Channel 5 has agreed to air Belmopan Weekly and the Prime Minister will take the matter back to Cabinet when it re-convenes next month. At that time a decision will be made on whether to restore normal relations with Channel 5….

PM Dean Barrow
"Let me just say that it was a very useful, very constructive, very cordial meeting. I have agreed on the basis of the discussion we had and on the basis of the CEO's Mai assurances to me. I have undertaken to at the first cabinet meeting in the New Year - which takes place on the Tuesday of the first working week - to ask cabinet to agree to the resumption of normal relations with Channel 5. I will take the position at that meeting that this should be done. I only don't say that we can do it immediately because I do have to get the support of cabinet."

Prime Minister Barrow said that the meeting was a constructive one and both sides have agreed to move forward without casting blame and made a commitment to operate on the basis of mutual respect.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 01/04/11 03:06 PM

The final day of GOB’s ban on Channel Five

On December seventh, government imposed an unprecedented ban on this station. Two weeks later, after discussions, Prime Minister Dean Barrow indicated that at the first meeting of Cabinet for this year, which is on Tuesday, he will prevail on the wisdom of his colleagues to remove the suspension of normal relations. We’re counting down and we hope that in our next newscast, we will be able to get both sides of stories involving the government and that we will be able to talk to ministers and public officers. Just in case you missed it, this is what the prime minister had to say on December twenty-third.

Dean Barrow (File: December 24, 2010)

dean barrow

“I have agreed on the basis of the discussion we had and on the basis of the CEO Mai’s assurances to me. I have undertaken to, at the first cabinet meeting in the New Year, which takes place on the Tuesday of the first working week, ask cabinet to agree to the resumption of normal relations with Channel Five. I will take the position at that meeting that this should be done. I only don’t say that we can do it immediately because I do have to get the support of cabinet. But you will see from what I’ve said that it was a very, very constructive meeting indeed.”

Jose Sanchez

“Regarding the government program, will it be aired on Channel Five?”

Dean Barrow

“Which government program?”

Jose Sanchez

“The weekly program was mentioned in the previous release?”

Dean Barrow

“Yes, indeed. The CEO has made it clear that that is not a problem.”

Jose Sanchez

“Was there anything that was proven to be wrong within the previous relations?”

Dean Barrow

“Well, Miss Mai is, as you know, a very accomplished diplomat and Miss Mai would not in a normal course concede any fault. And I don’t think we want to belabor that particular issue. Let us just say that while we also insisted that we thought, or we saw fault, we have agreed to move on. And there is a commitment on both sides to operate on a basis of mutual respect and on the basis of fair and balance coverage on the part of Channel Five which is indicating that it is not going to do anything to compromise its position that it is a professional operation, a professional outfit that will be guided by a commitment to the canons of the journalism profession. So, I am happy with that and as I said, I am perfect to recommend to cabinet, that we resume normal relations.”

All be told, we look forward to the resumption of relations to continue providing you with our award-winning newscasts and other local programming.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Government Suspend Relations with Channel 5 - 01/05/11 03:38 PM

GOB And Channel 5, Just Like Starting Over

After the Prime Minister met with Channel 5 CEO Amalia Mai on December 23rd and made nice with her - it was just a matter of time before government rolled back its blockade against the Ashcroft Allied station.

And that's just what cabinet did today. A short, sheepish release says, quote: "Cabinet has agreed to lift the ban and reinstate normal relations with Great Channel 5 on the commitment of Channel 5 to be visibly fair and impartial."

We don't know who's the judge of visibly fair and impartial coverage, but we do know that it took only 28 words to dissolve the blockade that had been declared on December 7th in a 490 word release…

Channel 7

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