Thursday, August 28, 2008

Broadcast draft not up to code, says OCM

Published: Thursday August 28, 2008

The Draft National Broadcasting Code requires more carefully-crafted provisions since it does not currently safeguard all stakeholders, including broadcasters, media group One Caribbean Media Ltd has said.

In its comments on the July 11 consultative document by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, OCM supported the idea of a broadcast code, viewing it as an important part of the "process of establishing and upholding high standards of conduct in the broadcast sector of the media".

OCM is the parent company of broadcast licensees CCN TV6 and CCCL (radio station Hott 93.5FM) and publishes the Trinidad Express newspapers.

Noting that it had recently begun the implementation of its own editorial principles and operational guidelines for the group, however, OCM maintained that more carefully-drafted provisions in the code would reflect a more thoughtful approach that was implementable and did not create "more mischief than it seeks to fix".

In its current state, though, OCM said the draft broadcast code contains several inconsistencies that, if implemented, could help create a "Big Brother" state to regulate the news, information and entertainment consumed by citizens.

The draft code also skates on thin ice in attempting to address questions of race and religion, with the definitions of "racial group" and "racist" which it proffers being challengeable, OCM stated.

The draft code also threatens the imposition of statutory penalties on conviction of a $250,000 fine and imprisonment for up to five years.

Arising out of its analysis of the draft code, OCM proposed a number of recommendations to improve the code.

"We would like to see the code explicitly embrace the foundation principles of freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago," OCM stated.

TATT, OCM added, should embrace the view of a regulatory landscape for broadcasters that acknowledge the roles of broadcasters themselves, the Media Complaints Council, the courts of law and TATT itself.

OCM also recommended that the draft code make clear that it was not intended to substitute for the editorial judgment of broadcasters and also suggested that the authority require each broadcaster to implement its own editorial policy document.

Source: Trinidad Express Newspapers

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