September 6th, 2021
Ms. Odette Campbell
Grenada Broadcasting Network
Observatory Road, St. George’s
Greetings Madam Managing Director!
Re New Today Story: Government takes action against GBN……
I trust that this communication finds you and the GBN family well, notwithstanding the various challenges that COVID-19 is imposing on our country. I take the opportunity to thank and commend the staff of the GBN family for their role as front line workers in keeping we the people informed and entertained during this very trying period for all.
Permit me to clarify that I write in my personal and individual capacity. I have noted the above-referenced story carried by the New Today – edition of September 4th – alleging that “Government takes action against GBN for covering carnival activities in August”. More specifically, the story alleges that the two government-controlled entities, the National Lottery Authority and the Housing Authority of Grenada, have been ordered to pull their advertising from GBN. The story also noted that GBN had not offered any comments.
Permit me to wonder out loud if this action is karma given GBN’s role in the ignoble departure, back in 2019, of the veteran broadcaster Lew Smith, who for several years was the host of GBN’s flagship current affairs programme, Beyond the Headlines. Indeed, Lew Smith and Beyond the Headlines had become almost synonymous. We the people wondered what “sin” Lew had committed. Was it that he had asked “inconvenient questions” of the programme’s first distinguished guest of 2019, Grenada’s Prime Minister?
What also did not escape the notice of we the people was that the individual replacing Lew Smith as host of the programme was a full time attorney-at-law and “a government senator and potential candidate for the New National Party” , an observation made by veteran media practitioner, Ray Roberts. Mr. Roberts wrote to the Executive Director of the majority owners of GBN, One Caribbean Media, expressing his concern and disappointment about the development, noting that such action was “in conflict with the high standards to which OCM aspires”. We the people wondered if it was this letter which resulted in action being taken in replacing the senator as host of the programme.
Intimidation of the Media?
During a July sitting of Parliament, Prime Mitchell proclaimed “Wrong is wrong no matter where it is! Speak on it!” Therefore, karma or no karma, it is for this reason that I write to express my concern and offer my solidarity to the GBN in light of the story carried by the New Today that “Government takes action against GBN for covering carnival activities in August”. I am not a journalist but it seems to me that the carnival-like activities covered by GBN were very worthy of coverage. Given Government’s cancellation of the Carnival holidays and the defiance of the Jab Jab Association which unreservedly declared that its members would be protesting on those two days, it was generally expected that the actions of the Jab Jab Association and their supporters would be covered. The defiance and challenge of such action were indeed BIG news. Is the Government of Grenada seeking to intimidate GBN about what it should cover or not cover?
I must observe, Madam Managing Director, that the alleged actions taken against GBN is reminiscent of another time when you were head of the GBN news department and were suspended over GBN’s coverage of allegations that Prime Minister Mitchell may have accepted a bribe. GBN workers received a note that promised “the full force of the law” if they pursued the allegations story. At the end of your suspension, you tendered your resignation and advised that you were leaving with a clear conscience.
We the people look forward with great interest to how this matter between the GBN and the Government of Grenada will play out. To the best of my knowledge, the people of Grenada, via the government, are minority shareholders of the GBN and therefore it is fitting that state enterprises advertise on GBN. Perhaps we the people ought to be getting more value from GBN. However, the objective of the alleged action can be only construed as an attempt to call GBN “to heel” and facilitate more censorship and expression of despotic tendencies!! This does not augur well for Grenada and is not in the interest of we the people.
I reiterate my solidarity and best wishes to you and the GBN family.
Sandra C.A. Ferguson