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Stabroek News full of itself . . . haughtily REFUSED to take Gov't ads in May, then INSTRUCTED that Gov't may resume placing ads in July, now BARKING that the (resumed) flow of ads for September too lil bit . . . EXPOSED POLITICAL JOKERS AND HYPOCRITES!!

DPI cuts state ads in Stabroek News

Moses Nagamootoo

The Department of Public Information (DPI) has significantly cut the placement of state advertisement with Stabroek News and Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud believes it is a clear “attempt to muzzle” the newspaper.

An analysis of the ads placed in the four daily newspapers over the last six months has shown a sharp decline in the number of state ads placed per column inches in Stabroek News as of June 2019. There has been no corresponding decline in the Guyana Chronicle or Kaieteur News but a decline has been noted in the Guyana Times.

According to Persaud, that on May 22nd, 2019, Guyana Publications Inc (GPI), publishers of the Sunday Stabroek and Stabroek News, had written DPI about a large outstanding debt for state ads and advised that no new placements would be accepted until there was a substantial settlement of the amount outstanding.

After the substantial reduction of the debt, GPI wrote DPI in July, advising that the normal flow of advertising could resume. It however did not. Some government ads were placed in the newspaper in the period since but these were only because those advertisers insisted specifically on Stabroek News.

Persaud said that neither Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who has responsibility for DPI, nor Director of Public Information Imran Khan have responded to separate letters from GPI inquiring about the reasons for the cut in advertising.

Repeated attempts by Sunday Stabroek to reach Khan yesterday proved equally futile.

Frequent follow-ups with DPI saw only a minute amount of ads placed with Stabroek News while the state-owned Guyana Chronicle continues to attract the lion’s share and large volumes have also been given to the Kaieteur News. Prior to May 22, Stabroek News and Kaieteur News receiv-ed a near equal share of Ads, with the Chronicle receiving nearly twice as much.

Persaud said the silence by the Prime Minister and Khan spoke volumes as there appears to be no explanation for the move. He asserted that the uncompromising position taken by Stabroek News on government’s actions in the aftermath of the successful December 21, 2018 vote on the motion of no-confidence against government has clearly rankled and suggested that DPI has retaliated

Pointing to the lack of response to inquiries made, Persaud suggested that the silence would lend great credence to the view that government officials had decided to target the newspaper for its forthright views on the government’s defiance of the motion of no confidence and the requirement for early general elections to be held.

He, however, reminded that the withdrawal of the ads for such reasons would put the government in violation of the Inter-Ameri-can press freedom Declara-tion of Chapultepec, which prohibits the use of government advertising for the rewarding or punishment of news media.

Principle 7 of the Decla-ration says, in part, “…the granting or withdrawal of government advertising may not be used to reward or punish the media or individual journalists.”

Principle 10 says “No news medium nor journalist may be punished for publishing the truth or criticising or denouncing the government”.

The Declaration had been signed in 2002 by then President Bharrat Jagdeo at a time when PM Nagamootoo was a PPP/C Parliamentarian. 

The Editor-in-Chief pointed out that Stabroek News had been the target of the withdrawal of ads by the Jagdeo administration in November 2006.  Following the general elections that year, ads were withdrawn from the Stabroek News in apparent retaliation for the space that the newspaper had accorded to the fledgling Alliance for Change after its formation in 2003. Regular columns in the newspaper had been availed to both principals of the party, Raphael Trotman and Khemraj Ramjattan, and the party succeeded in clinching five seats at the 2006 polls – the best third party showing in a long while. Trotman and Ramjattan are presently senior members of the administration. No state ads were placed by the Jagdeo administration with Stabroek News for 17 months after the cutoff and it provided no plausible explanation for the action.

In the current case, Persaud said that it was surprising that public officials would not respond to straightforward queries from the newspaper. He said that the APNU+AFC government had hitherto had a good record on press freedom but the cut off of ads pointed to a bid to muzzle the newspaper which would not succeed.

Since the boycott by the Jagdeo administration in 2006, Stabroek News had suggested that the placement of state ads should be taken over by an advertising agent.

Persaud said that the shut off of advertising would be reported to the Inter-American Press Association and press freedom bodies.

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