A core aspect of the media’s ability to probe and advocate for the interests of the citizenry is the separation between editorial and advertising decisions

Dear Editor,

I am writing regarding factual inaccuracies included in the article ‘Kaieteur News refuses Sithe Global advertisements’ (KN, June 19).

My company, Videomega Production, which is hired as the local PR company for Amaila Hydro Falls Inc (AFH), a wholly owned member of the Sithe Global group, has placed several paid advertisements on behalf of AFH in Guyanese publications. All have appeared in KN as they should, with the latest full page ad appearing on June 12.

On Friday June 17, a representative from KN’s media placement department, with whom we have had a good and longstanding relationship, called our office to inquire if we had sent an advertisement  to be placed in Kaieteur News since it had been seen  in the Stabroek News and the Guyana Chronicle. We stated that we had not  and as there seemed to be a suggestion emerging in the conversation of some form of deliberate exclusion of the paper, we explained our plans to run ads on a staggered, rotating schedule among all the Guyanese newspapers so as to reach the widest readership.

As the company responsible for communications efforts in Guyana about the Amaila Hydropower Project (including media relations), my team and I are working hard to ensure that information about the project is accurate, widely communicated and responsive to the questions raised by diverse groups of stakeholders. To date, activities have included visits to and consultations with hinterland communities; briefings and Q&A with representatives of Guyana’s business, community and NGO groups; public posting  of key documents including the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in key locations and online; local media press conference on the ESIA; public consultations on the ESIA (held in Georgetown and Linden with pre-advertisement in newspapers and TV); Q&A with company and biodiversity experts representatives available to answer the public’s questions. All information is available for the public’s review on the project website at www.amailahydropower.com. AFH has had a local office in Georgetown for some time and has recently re-located to 106-107 Lamaha Street (at Carmichael Street), North Cummingsburg, Tel: +592-695-3246.

The article further cites a lack of responsiveness by Sithe Global to questions about investments made thus far. In an email response to KN’s reporter on May 23, Sithe Global’s Senior Vice President, Jim McGowan, who has replied to repeated inquiries from the paper in the past, noted:

“The Project will be financed through debt from multilateral and development financial institutions per an agreed upon funding schedule over the course of the construction period, and equity from Sithe Global. Sithe Global has already contributed several million dollars to the development of this Project and expects to ultimately contribute around $200 million of equity. Just like the remaining portion being contributed by the lenders, this equity is not tied to any specific project cost but is being used to pay a proportion of the total project cost ($650m to $700m).”

We feel we have answered KN’s questions to the best of our ability and we reiterate our commitment to sharing complete, accurate information as the project progresses.

The Amaila Hydropower Project is a significant undertaking in Guyana. As part of the team supporting the project we will continue to make information available and to ensure that people’s questions are answered. We respect Kaieteur News’ commitment to contributing to the invaluable work of ‘The Fourth Estate’ and keeping Guyanese informed on all issues of national importance. However, a core aspect of the media’s ability to probe and advocate for the interests of the citizenry is the separation between editorial and advertising decisions.

Yours faithfully,
Cathy Hughes
Videomega Production

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