Premier McKeeva Bush has announced that his administration plans to start a government-run television station that will include, among other things, broadcasts of Legislative Assembly proceedings. The television station will also include programmes about public policy and government initiatives so that people can “get the facts”, he said.
A very positive thing that could come out of this is if the regular proceedings of the LA – and might we suggest the LA committees as well – were to be broadcast live. This would be a tremendous public service the government could provide to people who may not be able to come to the legislature to observe proceedings. It would truly bring government to the people and we support it all the way.
Recorded rebroadcasts of the LA would be OK, but there will always be the belief that the proceedings have been edited.
If this station is to receive any taxpayer funds, we feel there should be some way people can use it. In other words, what government might consider is turning this station into a public access TV operation, similar to stations that were started all over the US and Canada in the 1960s and 1970s.
Why not set aside some certain amount of time each week for local residents to put on their own TV shows? Obviously, these would have to conform to a certain acceptable standard of programming and content, but this would be another great opportunity and might provide job experience for Caymanians who want to go into the TV industry.
But there are ways this government TV station could go awry as well.
If the government were to use the station mainly as a propaganda tool, the many potential positives of this station will fall away. It would be one thing for a political party to privately pay for its own television station, but quite another for the sitting government to use taxpayers’ dollars to fund propaganda TV, the type of which can be found in non-democratic oligarchies and autocracies elsewhere in the world.
Those types of stations do not educate the public; they mislead and disenfranchise it. We hope that is not what we’re going to see.