Imagine that in 2013 an opposition party is forced to beg the government for time on media owned by the state.
Now consider, if you can, that the punishing government is in fact a minority one and the pleading opposition has a parliamentary majority. Surely the Guinness Book of Records should be consulted about this amazing anachronism. It is the stuff that breaking international news is made of and is certainly stranger than fiction.
History tells us that state control of the media is a losers’ game.
This mediaeval practice in which government hogs all the NCN airtime refusing to carry paid programmes from the majority opposition is known throughout the Caribbean and the Western hemisphere. No doubt it helps to explain why Guyana has fallen into odium in the last decade or so and is seen as the quintessence of backwardness in the Caribbean. In modern, progressive democracies ‘state-owned’ means accessible by all the country’s people. At a political level it means readily accessible to all political parties. Of course some will argue that there may be a clutch of nascent democracies and not so nascent ones equally as media primitive as Guyana. In responding to these people I ask to borrow and paraphrase some trenchant lines from Tennessee Williams’ famous 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire:
“Must we always hang back with the brutes?”
F Hamley Case