The National Communication Network issued a World Press Freedom Day message in which it noted the silence of the GPA and GHRA following what it saw as an opposition attack on state media employees after they voted to withhold government subventions for GINA and NCN putting over 50 of these persons out of jobs.
NCN World Press Freedom Day message:
The Management and staff of the National Communications Networks Inc join the world in observing World Press Freedom on May 3, 2012. We note the sentiments of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Ms Irina Bokova and join them in condemning the killing of 62 journalists who died as a result of their work and echo their call to remember these journalists and these crimes which should not remain unpunished.
We note that this year’s World Press Freedom Day is centered on the theme of "New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies." We also feel strongly that media workers need the protection of Governments and Civic society as the new media, facilitated by greater access to the worldwide web, moves online thus producing more online journalists, including bloggers, who are being harassed, attacked, and killed for their work Globally.
In Guyana we have worked hard over the years to emerge from the dark days of dictatorship and restrictions on the freedom of information (and an almost total lack of press freedom). We live in a society that receives a wide variety of views from four daily newspapers, nineteen television stations, Satellite and cable television services and unrestricted access to the internet. We are fortunate to have a Government which is planning to make over 70% of our population computer literate by the provision of laptops and internet access through the OLPF and E-Governance programs. We would like to lend our voices to those who are calling for reconsideration of over 20 billion dollars worth of budget cuts the majority of which will delay or cancel the cluster of Government programmes aimed at increasing broadband internet access across our country thus working against the very spirit of this year’s world Press Freedom Day theme.
Another globally acknowledged fact is that it is important to facilitate the building of capacity in any developing democracy. The Freedom House Report highlights this fact as follows:“In nearly all countries that have undergone a democratic transition since the 1980s, it is widely acknowledged that a major factor that hobbles media development is the lack of skills. Newspapers and broadcast stations liberated from the constraints imposed by dictatorship find that reporting on a democracy requires new skills and fresh talent. Freedom alone does not suffice.”
The 2012 World Press Freedom Day takes place at an historic juncture in the history of Guyana. For the first time in our history, the combined opposition has cut the subvention to the National Communications Networks and Government Information Agency thus reducing the opportunities for the development of media in Guyana and restricting the number of jobs available to young media workers in Guyana. No one can dispute that most of the professional journalists and media workers in Guyana were able to hone their skills and develop as professionals through their early employment in the Government owned media operations. Regrettably a large proportion of these jobs will be lost to future generations of journalists simply because media workers in Guyana are being used as bargaining chips by an insensitive opposition who make no apology for what they term as collateral damage.