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Leader of the Opposition Joseph Harmon in an interview with this publication stated that the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition is being significantly denied access to state media. This is most unfortunate, and the main opposition needs to expose the deprivation far and wide. Whilst it was a practice of previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) governments to deny the opposition media access, when the Coalition was in Government the PPP/C in Opposition had access to the state media.
The above being said, the Opposition needs to come to grips with the fact that they had the opportunity to write laws that would allow fair access to state media for the government and at least the parliamentary opposition. They did not do this even as they were fully aware of the experience they had when in opposition. They should not have allowed themselves to suffer the same fate twice. It goes beyond any argument that they did not expect to be in the Opposition, either through fair or foul means.
Another concern is that the Coalition Government was less than kind to media houses that allowed them access for the years they were in the political wilderness. It cannot be denied these media outlets were either denied, deprived or had to scrap to get government advertisements as other private media houses, friendly to and supportive of the PPP/C, hauled in the greater part of government spending.
It goes without saying that there is a bad taste in the mouth of those media houses who were so affected, and they are not necessarily sympathetic to the Coalition’s plight given the way they were treated by them. Presently some of the very media personnel the Coalition relies on to get their message out can recount stories of being insulted and treated unkindly by some of the leaders. To hear the stories recounted by some journalists is most unfortunate and it is hoped that such alleged mistreatment be experiences of the past.
To the aspect of media ownership, the Coalition, collectively or individually, never sought to secure broadcasting licenses for their organisations. The PPP/C has Freedom Radio and so many other television and radio broadcasting stations that are aligned or friendly to them. It was not expected that the Coalition would do what then president Bharrat Jagdeo did in his final days in office, going on a splurge issuing licenses to his party and friends. What was expected is that the Coalition would have recognised currently that the media is essential to its survival, keeping their constituents informed, and holding the government accountable.
Truth be told the Coalition not only failed itself in this area but is depriving its constituents and the world from hearing its point of view, unfiltered, through expansive media communications. The various social media platforms they have created are all well and good, but these could have been better supported by traditional media such as radio, newspaper and television which would have augmented scope and outreach. The past could serve as prologue should the Coalition do introspection, accept it erred and move to fix what remains fixable.