Funds should not be withdrawn from the state media

Dear Editor,

Regarding your news item captioned ‘GINA, NCN must have non-political management – APNU‘ (SN, Apr 26), I don’t think any party should have a stranglehold on the state-owned media and they should not be used for political propaganda. After all, state corporations are owned by the people and they should be managed to best serve the interests of the nation, informing the nation about exactly what is happening without any bias in favour of any party or individual.  And yes, I do agree that there should be non-political management of not only the state media but the private media as well. Some of the private media (and opponents of the government) engage in more propaganda, distortion, lies, innuendo, attacks on personalities, etc, than the state-controlled media.  But how does one define non-political management?

Who in Guyana employed by the state (or the private media) is non-political?  Also, in third world societies where state media exist, it is difficult to get non-political appointees for the simple reason that people would be afraid to take positions that they perceive would not be backed by the rulers and would fear for their jobs.

But the state media should not be eliminated.  They provide a vital source of information for citizens who otherwise would not be informed of what is happening in the far corners of the country.  While the private media are providing important information, their presence is not everywhere because of financial constraints.

The state media, some of which are subsidized, can afford to provide coverage of news and events in places that cannot be reached by the private media. State-owned media are necessary to disseminate news on laws passed as well as on projects being undertaken by government.

Lack of funding for the state media essentially means closing down NCN, putting people out of work because it cannot generate enough revenue to sustain operations. Even in the US and UK, the state media are subsidized as they are in India and other democracies. The opposition should have taken a gradualist approach in cutting off funding to the state-controlled media instead of completely withdrawing all funds forcing the termination of workers.

You can’t simply burn down the entire house to roast the head chicken. Everyone gets hurt.

There is no need to silence the state media as they do not have a monopoly on information. Unlike under the dictatorship, there is no stranglehold on the media.  State-controlled media are worth interacting with, given that since the new political dispensation last December, the opposition has been able to get their message into the state media. Completely withdrawing funds from the state media is wrong, and is somewhat similar to when the government withdrew ads from the Stabroek News and after that other private media.  It is not something for the private media to cheer about.  Tit for tat is not the fitting response to the situation.

Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram

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