HANDS OFF RADIO ANGUILLA

anguillian
By anguillian April 5, 2012 12:22

HANDS OFF RADIO ANGUILLA

 

Once again there are credible reports that the Government may be considering “divesting” itself of Radio Anguilla ostensibly as a cost-cutting measure – and probably redeploying staff – but really, how responsible or defensible such a move would be? For one thing, if it were possible, it would cause those who were involved in the station’s early establishment, and now dead, to turn disapprovingly in their graves. For another, those who remain alive and worked off their butts to ensure the survival and development of the station, over the years, would cry shame and probably shed tears. And for yet another thing, many of the current, well-qualified and hard-working staff of young people, would feel downtrodden and displaced, after having toiled to produce excellent, sacrificial and painstaking work for which the station is highly regarded as the National Information and Broadcasting Service.

 

Government would be plainly crazy to shut down its own voice at a time when it needs to stay in contact with the people on its own radio station for the dissemination of information.

 

The first rumours about closing Radio Anguilla were heard when the Government, particularly the Chief Minister, accused the British Government of wanting some 300 civil servants to be retrenched in order to reduce the budget. The Chief Minister, who mentioned Radio Anguilla as one of the vulnerable departments, virtually said this would not be allowed over his dead body. How come now, after that assertion, and with the Government managing to finance the public services (with some financial difficulty admittedly), canthere be any thought about closing or even downsizing Radio Anguilla?

 

One wonders whether the rumours do not in fact constitute a smokescreen, and an attack on free speech, to hinder the station’s policy or practice of allowing persons of any political or other persuasion to express their views or to otherwise use the radio.The present rumours give rise for suspicion when one recalls that, just recently, the station was reportedly ordered to account for “thedirection in which it is going” – a matter which, allegedly, the Ministry of Information or the Government may not like in terms of balanced reporting and programming.  It appears that there may also be covert attempts to discourage other sources of free speech inAnguilla. Those of us who have access to international Freedom of the Press Associations may be driven to bring in investigators if the threat persists, and while our leaders only pay lip service to democracy.

 

Successive Governments of Anguilla (not only the present administration) appeared to have had a particular grouse about certain democratic information practices at Radio Anguilla as if they had an exclusive, or even a divine, right to the station and that it was not in fact the peoples’ radio.

 

It was not uncommon for political leaders, in days gone by, to instruct that some persons should not be allowed on Radio Anguilla. There was even a time when a black list was drawn up and posted on the station’s noticeboard; and on other occasions the news had to be submitted for vetting. The popular Talk Your Mind interactive programme, designed to encourage free speech and openness, was closed down by the present Chief Minister as part of the continued heavy and undemocratic hand on Radio Anguilla then. But in these enlightened times, when there is a plethora of media houses, the internet, facebook, blogs, and so on in Anguilla, it is foolhardy even to think about closing down even the smallest outlet of expression.

 

The truth is that successive Governments have not shown any real interest in Radio Anguilla in its formative years or even now. Those who managed the station, even when it officially became the Department of Information and Broadcasting, in April 1976, had to scratch their heads, and wring their hands, to find ways to develop the station, recruit and train suitable personnel, with little assistance from Government except, of course, providing funding whether grudgingly or otherwise.

 

Even today, the Government and its political agents show little regard for Radio Anguilla. The Chief Minister, who should set an example, seemingly prefers to be heard on privately-owned stations rather than on the Government’s own official broadcasting station where information is regarded as more reliable and authoritative. If a Government delegation goes toLondonfor discussions with the British Government, the people are likely to hearreports on private radio before and after the return of that delegation. No wonder there may be people in Government who think Radio Anguilla should be closed down because, for some strange and wrong reason, they don’t use its airways either sufficiently or at all.

 

One of the complaints of Government had always been that the station needed to make more money. But what successive Governments have done, was to flood the small advertising market with a set of commercial licences issued to FM radio stations thus resulting in significant inroads in Radio Anguilla’s revenue generating ability. Now the order to the station is to bring in more money. The station was originally set up by the British Government in April 1969 to provide a service of information and entertainment for the people of the island, notwithstanding that part of its early purpose was said to be for “political expediency”, a term used during the confrontation with the St. Kitts Government.

 

Since then, Radio Anguilla has evolved into a channel of reliable and competitive information, and a source of good and clean entertainment for the people of the island. It should be allowed freely tocontinue to operate so, as it observes 43 years of broadcasting. It should even be further strengthened as the national station, and what should be the real mouthpiece of the Government effectively communicating with its people. To close Radio Anguilla, or otherwise seriously impair its services afterover four decades, would be foolish and an abandonment of a significant piece of social history. Hands off Radio Anguilla should be the theme of any public protest.

 

anguillian
By anguillian April 5, 2012 12:22

Advertisement

Latest Poll

Do you like the new layout of the Anguillian ?