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TVJ wimpy on gay ad furore

Published:Friday | August 26, 2011 | 12:00 AM


By refusing to air the public service announcement (PSA) advocating love for gay children, Television Jamaica (TVJ) has failed to live up to what is expected of a modern media house in a democratic society. In my view, TVJ's cowardice has exposed them as sycophantic clowns pretending to be serious journalists.

Of course, Gary Allen sees things differently. He defends his station on three grounds. Those grounds are not only, in themselves, intellectually weak, but are an insult to the intelligence of right-thinking Jamaicans.

First, he complains that the station was not consulted in creating the PSA. Boo-hoo! The fact that the station was not involved at the moment of creation is irrelevant. When the station was approached to air the ad, I am sure there were negotiations, which would have brought opportunities for comment and input by the station. That is, of course, assuming that TVJ nego-tiated in good faith.

Ridiculous arguments

Second, he admits that the station kowtowed to the clerics. This is where my point about failing to meet expectations holds true. The media have always defended their cherished right to broadcast, publish and disseminate ideas and opinions, especially those that are critical of governments. In fact, they cry foul at the first sign of censorship.

But, as we all know, with rights come responsibilities. Given that democracies thrive on diversity of opinions, one such responsibility is to communicate all angles in a debate, so that citizens can make informed decisions. The PSA is one such angle in the debate on homosexuality, and by refusing to broadcast it, TVJ committed an act of self-censorship for the purpose of placating the clerics.

True, broadcasting the PSA would have been controversial, but serious journalists are not afraid to take on controversies. Besides, what was TVJ afraid of: that we would all stop watching the station? Get real!

Third, Mr Allen hides behind "the law". Jamaican law criminalises buggery. The PSA is about family love and unity; it avoids the issue of sex all together. This excuse is baseless and silly.

We may never know the true reasons for TVJ's position, but in the end, history will judge the station on its failure of courage to do the right thing.