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Regional media organisation blasts broadcast code *LINK*

Regional media organisation blasts draft broadcast code for Trinidad

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC - The Association of Caribbean Media Workers
(ACM) has blasted a draft broadcasting code published on Monday by the
Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) as "one of the
most shameless attempts to impose a regime of censorship on the media".

ACM President Wesley Gibbings said the draft code was almost similar to the
"infamous Green Paper on the reform of media law in 1997" as had been
proposed by the then Basdeo Panday administration.

"It must be vigorously opposed by everyone with an interest in preserving
free speech and a free press," Gibbings said in a statement.

"Clearly, its architects are oblivious to the spirit of some of our basic
constitutional guarantees and this country's specific obligations under
Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights."

"It is also clearly in conflict with the Chapultepec Declaration, recently
endorsed by the current administration, and the concerns of regional,
hemispheric and international organisations interested in the preservation
of basic human rights including free expression and the reinforcement this
right enjoys under the guarantee of a free press."

Gibbings said the draft code "also appears to ignore the fact that there
already exist guidelines for media houses which are currently administered
by the Media Complaints
Committee, within the framework of self-regulation".

The publication of the draft code follows criticism earlier this month by
the AATT of radio stations and broadcasters for spewing "hate an venom"
over the airwaves.

The code was developed by the AATT using its power under the
Telecommunications Act 2001. The Authority has invited public comments on
the draft, and began publishing the entire code in Monday's newspapers.

The draft code targets mainly television and radio broadcasts, but also
includes other types of transmissions, such as those on a "point to
multipoint basis".

It forbids the transmissions of "rated material" after 11.30 p.m. and before
5.30 a.m., and also applies this sanction to cable television and Pay Per
View providers.

Radio talk show programmes will have to introduce a "profanity delay
facility" to weed out offensive calls before they are aired, and TV stations
must provide "a facility for the hearing impaired (during) news broadcasts
and other news-related programmes".

The draft code also forbids the transmission of "any advertisement which
contains material that glamorises the use of alcohol and tobacco" and
broadcasting companies loyal to specific political parties will have to
"make this stance explicitly known to their audiences".

Apr 2005 Caribbean News Agency, Ltd.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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