Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Gov't may target some media content

Published:Friday | May 12, 2017 | 5:28 PM
Reid

The Government says a policy is coming to address the consumption and influence of media content. But Education Minister Ruel Reid says the Andrew Holness administration will not develop that policy without consultations with stakeholders.

Reid made that point after Mark Golding, the leader of opposition business in the Senate, questioned aspects of a statement he made to the Upper House this morning marking Jamaica's performance in press freedom globally.

The Education Minister noted Jamaica's efforts to facilitate a free press and pointed to the Access to Information Act and its role in "broadening the scope of transparency and accountability".

But he argued that the spin offs of technological advancement and new media rise such as fake news have to be examined. Terrorism and violence, he said, have gained additional legs because of ease in accessibility from new media.

"So, even as we celebrate press freedom, the threat to our societies face may not be the physical intimidation which so many fear. Rather, the biggest concern should be the undermining of institutions and best practices in our way of life by persons with evil intentions," he said.

The Government, he added, must move beyond its traditional focus on "increasingly narrow and static infrastructure issues and address the consumption and influence of content".

That statement raised alarms in opposition benches. Golding said the intention was not clear even as he noted that new media and issues of security have to get the attention.

"It's ominous in respect to the freedoms of citizens," Lambert Brown said of the statement.

Reid insisted that censorship is not an intent but he said proposals to cover the unregulated media will be put forward after discussions with the Broadcasting Commission.