In response to your editorial titled ‘Government TV, Part Two’ in which you expressed concern that the Government Television channel would be used mainly as a propaganda tool, it must be pointed out that while the channel will certainly provide a means by which the Government can communicate directly with the public, the programme content will be much wider than that. Programming will include informational, educational, cultural, sports and religious shows.
Programming plans do call for weekly shows in an interview format featuring the premier and a similar show featuring ministers and chief officers. These will be weekly half hour or one hour shows. 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. When one takes into consideration that there are 24 hours of programming time per day, seven days per week to fill, those programmes will be a very small percentage of what is shown on CIGTV, even with repeat showings.
There are also plans for a five to 10 minute update of Government news. The channel will 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.
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. Again, without the biased reports that come out now.
CIGTV will also fill a gap that is left unfilled by the various media that we have locally. That is the showcasing of our arts and culture. In partnership with organisations such as Cayman National Cultural Foundation, individuals and independent groups, we aim to make cultural shows a significant part of the programme content. We will also give independent video producers the opportunity to showcase their projects by providing public access to the channel. In the same vein, there will be programmes of a religious nature and sports coverage. All of these various programmes will not be available to begin with, it will take time to develop and create programming. But as CIGTV develops, such programming will be a major percentage of the channel’s offering.
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. Hopefully, what is described here reaches that threshold. Certainly, it does not describe a channel that is used “mainly as a propaganda tool”. We hope to begin operating shortly and should be able to broadcast the Legislative Assembly when it resumes on 5 November.
Office of the Premier