Cox challenges TTPBA’s criticism over Govt concession to broadcast

Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 18:00

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Don­na Cox has dis­put­ed crit­i­cism over the al­leged mis­use of the Gov­ern­ment’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions con­ces­sion to broad­cast its poli­cies and de­ci­sions on pri­vate tele­vi­sion and ra­dio sta­tions. 


In a press re­lease, is­sued yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Cox chal­lenged the crit­i­cism made by pres­i­dent of the T&T Pub­lish­ers and Broad­cast­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (TTP­BA) Ki­ran Ma­haraj af­ter a lengthy in­ter­view with Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley was broad­cast on Sun­day night. Ma­haraj claimed that use of the con­ces­sion was un­con­sti­tu­tion­al.

“We val­ue the me­dia and its role in shap­ing a so­ci­ety we can all be proud of. We al­so val­ue our re­la­tion­ship with the me­dia and will do noth­ing to un­der­mine this fourth pil­lar of democ­ra­cy,” Cox said. 

Cox quot­ed ex­ten­sive­ly from the con­ces­sion doc­u­ments, which re­quires all free-to-air ra­dio and tele­vi­sion sta­tions to make 14 hours per cal­en­dar week avail­able to trans­mit pub­lic-in­ter­est Gov­ern­ment ma­te­r­i­al, free of charge. 

“We are not un­rea­son­able. For us, every re­quest is the be­gin­ning of a ne­go­ti­a­tion. Of­ten, sta­tions in­form us that they are un­able to air Gov­ern­ment pro­grammes at the times we re­quest, and so be­gins a dis­cus­sion. We have al­ways been able to reach some com­pro­mise,” Cox said, as she not­ed that one sta­tion on­ly al­lowed for one hour a week de­spite the re­quire­ment of 14. 


Re­spond­ing to Ma­haraj’s claim that sta­tions re­ceive week­ly re­quests from the Gov­ern­ment, Cox not­ed that the last re­quest be­fore Sun­day’s in­ter­view came in No­vem­ber, last year. 

Cox al­so sought to de­fend the de­ci­sion to have Guardian Me­dia Lead Ed­i­tor and An­chor Khamal Georges per­form the in­ter­view with Row­ley. 

Cox not­ed that the in­ter­view was in keep­ing with in­dus­try prac­tice as the ques­tions were not fur­nished by the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter, al­though it re­quest­ed the in­ter­view. 

The in­ter­view, which last­ed one-and- a half- hours, was broad­cast on all re­quest­ed sta­tion ex­cept CCN TV6, as it claimed that it had pre-ex­ist­ing com­mer­cial oblig­a­tions. 

Cox al­so said that she was will­ing to meet with the TTP­BA and the Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion of T&T (MATT) to clar­i­fy any fur­ther is­sues. 

Reporter: Derek Achong