The misuse of CBC
As the clock struck 7 p.m. last Saturday, January 26, 2013, and the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation’s Evening News began, one of CBC’s most talented and professional journalists appeared on our television screens and announced as follows: “We begin with tonight’s top story … the Education Minister, Ronald Jones, is confident that the Democratic Labour Party will win the next General Election”. CBC then proceeded to fill our television screens with images of Jones canvassing in his constituency.
According to our Government-owned CBC, this story about Ronald Jones’ highly partisan political opinion was the “top story”, not only in Barbados or the Caribbean, but in the entire world! And of course, the partisan political propaganda did not stop with the Ronald Jones story, but rambled on and on with a number of other similarly trivial stories that featured other DLP operatives making similarly meaningless partisan statements.
But this type of partisan political propagandising had now become “par for the course” with CBC. Virtually every single night the CBC Evening News is devoted to a nauseating narration of the most bare-faced DLP oriented political propaganda.
All right-thinking Barbadians should view this degradation and misuse of CBC as nothing less than a national scandal and tragedy! (We should also extend our sympathy to the professional journalists at CBC who are being forced to endure this bastardisation of their profession).
It is a scandal and a tragedy because in this media driven contemporary age in which the television has emerged as the single most powerful tool of socialisation, the powers-that-be in Barbados are not merely failing to use our television medium for constructive purposes of mass education, but are in fact using it in the most negative manner as an instrument of mass stupefaction, and therefore of mass degradation!
This time around it is the Democratic Labour Party: in times past it was the Barbados Labour Party!
Though, truth be told, I do not think we have ever seen it as bad as it is now.
Ever since the establishment of CBC in 1963, both the DLP and BLP have taken great pains to ensure that Barbados would not only have one television station, but that it would be one which would remain in the hands of the governmental authorities, and which would therefore be available for use by the ruling political party to telecast their partisan propaganda. That has been the fundamental principle underpinning Barbados’ national television policy over the past 50 years!
This pernicious policy has been to the great detriment of Barbados and the Barbadian people. First of all, it has meant that literally hundreds of career opportunities have been closed off to the young people of Barbados. There are literally thousands of young Barbadians who would love to have careers as television camera operators, presenters, producers, video editors, graphic artists, make-up artists, television writers and the list goes on. But by refusing to allow any other television stations to be set up in Barbados, the DLP/BLP political class has ensured that no television “industry” worth its name will ever be established in Barbados. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Lucia and many other Caribbean countries, where there are multiple television stations.
In addition, the policy of ruling-party monopoly and misuse of television broadcasting has inhibited the growth of Barbadian democracy, since the practice of democracy in any modern society is dependent on the widespread dissemination of impartial information that the people can use to make their own analyses and decisions.
This is therefore yet another area in which the narrow DLP/BLP political class is doing a grave disservice to the Barbadian people!
* David Comissiong is President of the Peoples Empowerment Party.