Chairman of Television Jamaica (TVJ) Milton Samuda says he has learnt some important lessons from an incident in which he took recordings of interviews belonging to journalists from The Gleaner and TVJ.
At the time the tapes were taken, Samuda, who is also a board member of the RJR Communication Group, erased portions of the journalists' interviews with his clients, athletes Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, who had tested positive for using banned substances.
In a meeting last week with Samuda at the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) headquarters in St Andrew, the attorney explained that set questions were "designed" by him and "shared" with the journalists and that they breached an agreement by deviating from the agreed line of questioning.
During the meeting, a team, led by Advisory Council Chairperson Wyvolyn Gager, discussed the erased tapes, the issue of preconditions being set for conducting interviews, and the potential conflict of interest given that one of Samuda's roles at TVJ is to preserve and protect free press in Jamaica.
PAJ President Jenni Campbell argued during the meeting that setting conditions would compromise free and open coverage and would restrict reporting, adding that if reporters agreed to such preconditions, it would be setting a troubling and dangerous precedent in media organisations.
The PAJ emphasised that the acceptance of preconditions for the interview should not have been accommodated in the first place.
On the matter of erasing the "offending" material, Samuda said the journalists agreed to portions of the tape being erased after acknow-ledging that they had breached the agreement.
The attorney said the journalists were never coerced into handing over the tapes.
The PAJ team - which included Gager, Cliff Hughes, Ben Brodie, and Roxanne Marr, who represented PAJ's legal counsel, Bert Samuels - said the outcome of the meeting was less than satisfactory.
Samuda was accompanied by attorneys-at-law Patrick Foster, Nigel Jones and Danielle Chai.