By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) wants a public debate before the APNU+AFC government moves to draft and implement a media policy, which is aimed at regulating media entities across the country.
During its time in government, the PPP had also stated that such a policy is needed in Guyana but was met with much resistance from the then APNU and AFC Opposition.
As a matter of fact, the now Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo had told an Alliance For Change (AFC) press conference in May 2014 that the Party is against such a policy.
“The AFC is opposed to the state or politicians legally regulating or controlling the press. Though we admit that standards ought to be raised… this should to be done by self-regulation
Nagamootoo, who is also a former Journalist, further stated, “AFC believes that our media ought to continue the search by self-regulation of credible standards of journalistic ethics and responsibility. In this regard, the government has a legal duty to protect press freedom, not to undermine it… we do not need to regulate the press, to make laws that could further fetter it, that could muzzle it, and turn it into a toothless poodle.”
However, now that it is in government, it was recently revealed that the APNU+AFC government is considering the media policy. Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told a post cabinet media briefing on August 28 that “The media, as the fourth estate, is an important element in the governance of a country and therefore it is not something you can touch or do as you want.”
He further noted that it’s the early days yet, but he believes, “that a policy will emerge. But what we are saying now is that the media must act responsibly and that if you are reporting on government business, you must be fair balanced and objective.”
When questioned about the PPP’s position on the issue at a press conference on Monday, August 31, General Secretary, Clement Rohee reminded that Nagamootoo had presented a document on Freedom of the Press in the early days of the PPP and that one Mr Rafeek Khan was hired to do a study on the media in the country.
“So I’m keeping my powder dry and awaiting what the government will come up with and I hope they will take into consideration what was stated in those two documents,” Rohee said.
He further noted that the PPP is in support of such a policy.
“I don’t agree that the media should have a free for all. The question of regulation in terms of the media is going to be a very sensitive issue, maybe it will have some constitutional impacts as well and I hope that whatever comes out, that it will be subject to public debate and discussion before anything is actually formalized and laid in the Parliament.”