The PPP wants the establishment of a special body to monitor and regulate the local press and is accusing some sections of a blackout of coverage of the party and its government.
“The PPP is of the firm view that there should be a special body established to oversee the operations of the media and to defend the public against malpractice in the media,” PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee said at a press conference yesterday at Freedom House.
He said that currently the independent media in Guyana, such as Stabroek News, which he referred to as “anti-government” repeatedly during the press conference, are in need of regulation.
“The party has observed that in the case of Stabroek News, while it religiously attends PPP press conferences and receives PPP press statements, nothing is carried in its columns. On the contrary, practically everything said by the opposition politicians and things critical and or uncomplimentary of the government and the party is given prominence by these print and electronic media houses,” Rohee added, saying the party noted with great concern the continued blackout in the “opposition media” of news and information emanating from the PPP and the ruling PPP/C government.
“Our position that the opposition media is anti-government and anti-PPP is buttressed by the information we received from friends and supporters of the party that their letters and information are not carried and or butchered and buried,” he further said.
Rohee said that the PPP deemed it necessary to discuss the issue of regulating the press because the party has recognised that “certain sections of the media are infringing on the people right to freedom of information.”
Rohee added that “we believe however that the Guyanese people have a right to access information that is critical to make important decisions. This important aspect of freedom is often forsaken by the opposition media.”
“We want fair and balanced reporting and that is what is absent,” he added, while charging that the independent dailies create chaos and are sensational. He singled out Stabroek News and Kaieteur News specifically and said they are not accountable to “standards and decency.” He accused Stabroek News of “gutter journalism” and added that Kaieteur News is filled with “misinformation and fabrication” that is delivered to the Guyanese populace on a daily basis.
Rohee did not give a time frame, but noted that the executive would be exploring how to set up a body charged with regulating media.
According to Rohee, the PPP and the government are proud of their record of upholding press freedom and the right of freedoms of speech, and will continue to honour them but would also have to monitor the fundamental practices of freedom of speech.
He did not address the concerns of the political opposition over the abuse of the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) and the Government Information Agency (GINA), which have been accused of propagandising for the governing party and not giving fair or adequate coverage to the opposition.
As a result, both last year and this year the opposition used its majority to vote to cut the budget for GINA and the subventions for NCN, while calling for both outfits to be professionalised. However, the cuts have not had an impact on the operations of either agency.