Time to revisit the role of the CBC

Just a curious question on an issue which, naturally, ought to be a matter of public interest and concern, if we are talking about a level playing field where equality and fair play prevails in the context of our democracy in the run-up to the next general election, constitutionally due no later than the second quarter of next year.

Seeing that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who also happens to be the minister responsible for broadcasting, was yesterday given a full hour on the public television service of the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to make a “live” broadcast of his speech to the annual conference of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), will the same opportunity be afforded to Opposition Leader Mia Mottley when she makes a similar address to the annual conference of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) next month?

Though Mr Stuart holds the office of Prime Minister, his address yesterday was not delivered in that capacity. Though the speech did address issues of public importance, like crime and the economy, Mr Stuart spoke in his capacity as president and political leader of the DLP before a largely partisan audience. Many Barbadians previously have expressed concern over Mr Stuart’s seeming preference to speak on matters of public importance at party meetings and other events, instead of following the tradition of making nationally-televised addresses, either from his office or the studios of CBC which are seen as politically neutral ground, as happened to be the case with his predecessors.

The fundamental difference with yesterday’s address was that it was a fully live broadcast. We cannot readily recall if there was a precedent under a previous administration but it is worth noting that since its establishment back in the 1960s, CBC has always faced accusations of being used by whichever political party is in power, as an extension of their external propaganda machinery when, in fact, it should serve the public interest and be open to all shades of expression, opinion and ideas, including the Opposition’s, even when they may be in conflict with positions by the incumbent.

As the DLP’s annual conference was a strictly party event as distinct from a Government event, another pertinent question which arises is whether the DLP actually paid the cash-strapped state broadcaster for the air time. If that was not the case, then it would be interesting to find out who gave authorization for the broadcast. Either way, party spokesmen should set the record straight, lest the accusation is made that it was a case of abuse of public resources for partisan political promotion.

Fair play dictates that since Barbados is moving into election mode, the Opposition BLP should be afforded the same opportunity to get its message out to a national audience in real time so that Barbadians, after having heard the direction the DLP is taking, would be in a position to equally hear about the kinds of policy initiatives the BLP is proposing to address the serious economic, social and political problems facing the country. The smaller parties, such as the United Progressive Party and Solutions Barbados, should have the same privileges extended, albeit on a smaller scale. Such would satisfy the requirements for the existence of a level playing field.

Continuation of the use of CBC for partisan political purposes underscores a need for revisiting the original role of the state broadcaster. Is CBC a Government broadcaster where its main function is giving lopsided emphasis to highlighting issues from the perspective of the Government of the day? Such would qualify CBC as a Government broadcaster. However, if other interests not necessarily supportive of the incumbent are granted the same access to air their views, CBC would qualify to be defined as a public broadcaster, the existence of which is wholesome for democracy.

CBC is at a cross roads where its future is concerned. It is an opportune time for a comprehensive review of the Corporation to be carried out to determine if it should stay and, if so, in what form or alternatively, whether it should be abolished as the Allen Chastenet government did recently in the case of Radio St Lucia. It would be good to cleanse CBC of political influence, and assert its editorial independence so that it can begin to function as a true public broadcaster. And true public broadcasting, which is insulated from undue political or any other influence, is the kind of genuine public broadcasting which makes a real difference.

17 Responses to Time to revisit the role of the CBC

  1. Santini More
    Santini More September 4, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Apart from being a propaganda tool for the ruling party, what exactly is the purpose of CBC?

    • Cyan Jada
      Cyan Jada September 4, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      1- Transmission of cultural ideas, arts, beliefs and practices
      2- The dissemination of information pertinent to the members of society
      3- The retention of values, mores and acceptable social norms
      4- keeping the society abreast of daily happenings via the News ans GIS informercials
      5- fostering the idea or regional cooperation
      6- development of local sport
      7- highlighting the academic achievements of our people
      8- etc, etc, etc

    • Cyan Jada
      Cyan Jada September 4, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      Everything but wholesome entertainment to keep the young people inside their houses after dark and to force us to pay for cable

    • Santini More
      Santini More September 4, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Cyan Jada Thank you for your response as my question was a genuine one. My thoughts based on your answers are about whether we could achieve all of what you have mentioned in a more cost effective manner? Remember we as a country are broke and with the internet and other media now more readily available to many households, does CBC really deserve our tax dollars, when all too often it is used as a platform for the ruling party to dominate the news cycle?

    • Kayden Jada
      Kayden Jada September 4, 2017 at 10:32 pm
    • Tracy Brown
      Tracy Brown September 4, 2017 at 10:41 pm

      Cricket lol

  2. Claire Battershield
    Claire Battershield September 4, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    To waste money.

  3. E Jerome Davis
    E Jerome Davis September 4, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Well said. My exact thoughts.

  4. Ryan R A Charles
    Ryan R A Charles September 4, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    This is an interesting topic….Seeing that in the past ( I mean from the Freundel appointment as PM) the opposition leader as well as the opposition members were never shown in any news exerts on CBC….and we know why….. and the proof is in the pudding.

    This government as we know had sent a strongly worded letter to the CBC stating that they are not to allowed play or provide any news exerts or public announcements given or done by theBLP.

    CBC….. If you watch the news carefully ( for those who do wahct it ) you will see that most of the reports are done based on what is going on with this current government and nothing with the BLP…..Even so much so that we all know that during the Independence Day and Christmas Holiday they do not play the messages by the opposition leader and this had happen SEVERAL times before except for last year just because it was the 50th Anniversery…..

    Truth be told he barely wasted his time yesterday cause no one watch and needles to say NO ONE CARES. And if he does allow CBC to do a live broadcast of Mia Amor Mottley’s speech Trust and believe they will be watching….and if they don’t she will STILL get her point across.

  5. Krys Leeann
    Krys Leeann September 4, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Lbar I haven’t for the past 12 years

  6. Michael Crichlow
    Michael Crichlow September 4, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    Well not only CBC , Have anyone checked the slant on some printed media with Tabloid tendencies?

  7. Nealiho Hope
    Nealiho Hope September 4, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    CBC please use this network as an example and anything else you can find to better our tv station https://www.knowledge.ca/

  8. Tony Webster September 5, 2017 at 6:15 am

    An honest comparison of the rationale of C.B.C.,, when we gained independence, and nowadays, would show that it has long lost its relevance and justification- especially when there are so many other media channels now available.

    Yes, when the Chief Medical Officer needs to tell us something about ZIKA, she can readily get two free minutes of video on CH-8, but there are numerous other media channels , that are better, more effective, and cheaper. It’s called the private sector…and they perform waaaaay more effectively,band efficiently. Care to take a look at C.B.C.’s AUDITED accounts, and do a cost-benefit analysis?

    Just another millstone around the necks of tax-payers, and with well-fed Prima Donnas parading in XXXXX SIZE attire.

  9. Belfast September 5, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Before we passed judgement on CBC, lets wait and see if the management of same CBC will accord the same compliments at the next BLP Conference.

  10. Alex Alleyne September 5, 2017 at 4:38 pm


  11. John Everatt September 5, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    In this age of internet and online TV viewing I would doubt that many on this island watch CBC. In my view this government owned and operated station should have been sold years ago when it might have been worth something. Now I doubt it would fetch much of a price. And the government keeps pouring money into it as there are really no advertisers to speak of that pay the bills.

  12. Tony Webster September 6, 2017 at 6:21 am

    No sane person/ company would buy CBC, with its existing staff and equipment. Its $115 MILLION in accumulated losses might have some value, but even that would require a transaction involving shares, rather than buying the few bits of equipment yet working (I’ve seen more green-tinged humans on CH-8, than all the others living on Mars). it’s a money-gobbling half-dead dinosaur anyway you look at it.
    Hmmm…on the bright side, there may be a huge underground cavern up there …and with all that weight (towers; sat-dishes, plump ladies and all…you never know…


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