Wednesday 21 August, 2019

Government looking to regulate the local media landscape

Government looks to regulate media

Government looks to regulate media

The Government is in discussions with the Broadcast Commission about the means to regulate the local media landscape, including the use of social media.

This was revealed by Education, Youth and Information Minister, Ruel Reid, in the Senate on Friday.

Reid said only 20 per cent of broadcast news nationally, is regulated by the Broadcast Commission.

He said the Government is raising the issue in the context of Jamaica recently moving to eighth place on the Global Freedom of the Press ranking.

The minister said the media landscape has changed significantly, with persons now having more mediums through which they can communicate and get information.

He said this is while the changing media landscape has allowed children to have access to unregulated information via the Internet, and there is the emergence of ‘fake news’, and the developments have given criminal gangs a platform to recruit members and also glorify their illegal activities.

He noted that the challenge is whether the media should be subject to legislative regulation, and if so, how much of it should be regulated.

Reid said with the new media landscape has come the undermining of institutions integrity and best practices in some cases, and the negative effects of reduced focus on reasoned discourse.

"The media environment shapes the way in which the information is disseminated and understood. Falling cost to production and a multiplicity of viewing and listening options have led to smaller audiences and an intense fight for ratings, which has encouraged even more attention-getting sensationalism than we've seen in the past," indicated Senator Reid.

He said the action of the Government is in recognition of its responsibility to create conditions for economic growth and development nationally.

"Government has to address all of these issues and develop a modern regulatory framework that is designed for this new era. It also requires a deeper understanding of the critical importance that communication channels now play in an economy, and of the economic impact of popular empowerment through widespread engagement with data, creative images, voice-based services and text," he asserted.

In response, Opposition Senator Mark Golding said he has not gotten a sense of a clear policy direction from the Government about how it plans to regulate the media.

He took issue with the suggestion that it is the Government's responsibility to address the consumption of information content across the media, or to censor it.

"The law must protect, and does protect the legitimate interests of citizens in the protection of their reputations and the use of the tool of the Internet and computers as a means of inflicting wrong and harm, whether it be the devices themselves or the misappropriation of data, or to threaten or intimidate persons, or bully them, and that is a balance that has been struck," Golding argued.   

In response, Senator Reid said the Government has no intention to censor the media landscape.


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