Much has been made of late in some
local media about a decision by the ruling government not to allow opposition
party members to appear as hosts on Radio Cayman’s afternoon talk show.
Some readers have commented to
www.caycompass.com about this move being ‘unfair’ or ‘an attack on free speech’
by the government.
In our view, all this public
hub-bub amounts to avoidance of the real issue, which is whether or not the
Cayman Islands should continue to have government-owned, controlled and
operated news and talk radio station, or indeed any government-controlled news
media outlet at all.
We already have one considered view
– from the oft-derided (within the civil service at least) Miller Commission
report – that feels Cayman should not have such an operation.
In an interview with the Caymanian
Compass earlier this year, report co-author James Miller III noted the
“There is no requirement for a
government to have its own radio station and in some countries such control is
used to promote an anti-democratic agenda,” Mr. Miller said.
So, to those out there fretting
about ‘democracy’ being infringed upon by a government-owned, controlled and
operated radio station, we really must question how this issue can even be
raised in such a context.
It would be extremely difficult –
at best – to have true ‘democracy’ represented by a government-owned,
controlled and operated radio station. Such stations are generally there to
provide the views and messages of the government, full stop. Anyone who
believes otherwise is simply deluding themselves.
This is not to say that Radio
Cayman does not provide a valuable outlet and service to the community, far
from it. There are many positive and sensible reasons for the Cayman Islands to
have a government-owned, controlled and operated radio station; the threat of
hurricanes not least among those.
But that is another issue, and
another debate, for another day.
Given the current state of play, if
the opposition party is concerned about how the government controls its own
radio station, it should probably focus on getting more votes in 2013.