August 16,1999

No calls would be accepted
on the need for African programs

From: Cindy Williams
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 13:05:36

EDITOR: Would you believe in this day and age, that state media employees of the ICN group are telling callers that they cannot comment without restriction on the issue of African Programming on state-owned radio. In the very same month we are bombarded by the same radio station on the facts of India's Independence and interviews with the Indian High Commissioner. It seems like these people has never the heard the talk about National Unity (or is it just that talk) and the multi-ethnicity of our society.

I would like our Director of Telecommunications to take a look at the tapes of the SOUND-OFF TALK SHOW of 16/8/99 He should then tell us all, if such a position is legal, discriminatory, predjudiced, biased or morally wrong. You see sir in my humble opinion it is very obscene for people who run state-media to insist that an issue if it has been discussed already cannot be raised again (for the most illogical of reasons). I see it as deliberate censorship sanctioned or unsanctioned and it is a very disturbing precedent being set. Besides the issue of the need for African Programming what other issues that are discussed frequently would they apply it to, or on whose whims and fancies. It seems like an ill-gale is blowing our way. May God help us all.


Amon's Response: 16-8-99

This issue about the absence of AFRICAN programs in our media, has its genesis in how this country was founded, together with the immaturity of past governments. This country is largely made up of Africans and Indians, yet the media only allows programs that reflect the European and Indian view of the world. This neglect keeps racial and gender discrimination alive. I am certain that people in Trinidad and Tobago have always heard me say that we should learn of and from all the diverse cultural views of the world, as this allows us to develop RESPECT for each other. They all agree to this, but the state media is still trying to discourage this. What we are dealing with is not a documented official policy against cross cultural learning, but the personal biases of the people who manage these media houses. Today this was quite evident with the host, Gail Seegobin, threatening to cut off callers who introduce the issue about the absence of African programs on the state media. They discourage the support for African programs then claim that people are not interested. This is blatant racial discrimination being practiced by that host.

The call-in program is for people to express their concerns, with no official topic. Certainly the biases in the media especially our state-owned media should be of concern to us all. This underscores the point that I have always been making, that most people suffer from deep-seated racial fears. This is the reason that these issues should be discussed repeatedly. We are dealing with the legacy of colonialism and all right thinking people should support this appeal for balance in our media. Inherent in this appeal is the matter of gender and all other forms of negative discrimination.


D. S-Simon
RE: Sound off AM show @91.1FM 08-16-99

To the editors and managers of all media houses:

Question: What is the purpose of a call in program that is formatted to the discussion of issues that is of concern to the callers or the nation at large?

If a section of the population feels there is a need for programs of a certain nature, how will anyone be aware of that need if they are blocked from voicing their opinion especially on state own media? Even when callers are asking to voice their support they are blocked by this statement "this medium is not for referendum" when on an early program that very option was given to voice your support or opposition without repeating the same issue at length. Coming on the heels of the emancipation celebration this issue is very important and quite relevant, even the company, Peakes, sent home workers for wearing African attire then later apologizing claiming that they were not aware that it was emancipation.

The only way to know if a particular topic is an issue is when there is support for that issue by the people who are most affected, by it.

The statement was made, "when a particular caller and a small group that supports that caller keep calling in on the same issue blocks the way from others caller from discussing other issues". Why is it that all other topics can be discuss over and over, however when any topic with the word African is mention there seem to by a deliberate attempt to silence or block the issue? It is apparent that there is an unwritten policy that allows for the blocking of any issue with African content even if there is support from the public for it.

Of all the ethnic groups in this country, it appears that the Africans are the only group that is blocked and when an attempt is being made to better inform the people on issues regarding the African. As long as there isn't any consensus among the Africans everyone is willing to hear the bickering and it is then okay to discuss the 'those Africans could never get it right' issues.

The only person I have heard who addresses and continue to address all issues including that of equality in the state media is the caller 'Mr. Maraval' (A. H. Hotep) and rightly so because what I have heard over the past seven weeks from ill informed callers are inaccurate information regarding issues of an African nature. This highlights the great need for programs that will inform and educated all callers and listeners. As long as the misinformation continues I will lend my voice and support to all issues that will better inform the people.

In addition to lending my support on all causes that will uplift and educated the society, I will go on record that I will support any action, legal or financial that Mr. Maraval takes regarding the outright discrimination that was displayed by the morning host while he was making his contribution.

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