The next meeting of the Legislative Assembly, slated for 5 November, looks likely to be aired on the new government TV station.
According to a statement from the Office of the Premier: “We hope to begin operating shortly and should be able to broadcast the Legislative Assembly when it resumes on 5 November”.
The statement read: “The coverage of the Legislative Assembly proceedings will prove to be invaluable, especially from an educational and information perspective. Audiences will not only be able to hear their MLAs, but see their demeanour.
“They will see how the LA proceedings are conducted. Besides the Legislative Assembly, plans also call for coverage of parliamentary committees and boards that are open to the public.” Three TV cameras have been installed in the Legislative Assembly building so parliamentary meetings can be filmed and broadcast.
The statement, issued Tuesday in response to a Caymanian Compass editorial published on 14 September, denied that the station, called CIGTV, would be a propaganda tool.
CIGTV stands for Cayman Islands Government Television.
“CIGTV will give the Government the ability to state its position as it is, and not as interpreted by a reporter or commentator. Viewers will be able to judge for themselves without the influence of biased reporting or commentary,” the statement said.
The statement continued that the new channel, which will be aired on WestStar TV’s channel 20, would not be all about politics and that, as well as input from members of the government, programming on the 24-hour station would include “informational, educational, cultural, sports and religious shows”.
“We are well aware that a Caymanian television audience that has been weaned on the likes of NBC, CNN, Fox News, HBO and BBC, are not going to sit and watch endless, meaningless political rhetoric, especially with a remote control in their hands and a variety of channels to choose from. So, what we broadcast on CIGTV must be content that is relevant and of interest to our local viewers if it is to be meaningful TV that attracts and holds an audience,” the statement read.*
There are also plans for a 5-10 minute updates of government news on the channel, which the statement said would be a “ready avenue of communication not only for the political wing of the Government to communicate with the public, but also for Government departments. CIG departments will have a medium willing to accommodate their message with a high priority. Here, Government departments will not have to rely on 30-second sound bites or six column inches of print on page 8 to get their message across to the public.
“They will be able to impart their information to the fullest without the opinion of reporters inserted. CIGTV will feature departments and the services they provide; it will educate the public in such matters as health and agriculture. CIGTV will also add another means of official emergency communication.”
A Freedom of Information response revealed that the purchase and installation of equipment for the station cost $227,345 and that $186,000 had been budgeted for three staff positions for the channel.
Premier McKeeva Bush’s press secretary Charles Glidden, who is spearheading the development of the TV project, told the Caymanian Compass last month that he had hoped CIGTV would be up and running by August this year, but there was a delay in the installation of a microwave antennae on the roof of the Government Administration Building in George Town.