…23 placements on Sunday despite claiming ad withdrawal from government
DEBUNKING claims that the Government of Guyana was starving Stabroek News of state resources, through the withholding of advertisements, the Department of Public Information (DPI), in presenting the facts, pointed out that, for the month of October, Stabroek Newspaper received a total of 171 ads from the Government.
DPI, at the time, was responding to an identical editorial, which appeared in the Sunday, November 17, 2019 editions of Barbados’ Nation Newspaper and the Trinidad Express – members of the One Caribbean Media group. “The Government of Guyana was alarmed at the numerous inaccuracies contained in the editorial which forms part of an apparent Stabroek News campaign to resurrect, misrepresent and regionalise an issue which had no merit and which has been debunked and settled in Guyana,” DPI said ahead of presenting the facts of the matter.
According to the editorial, for more than three months, Stabroek News received virtually zero advertising from government agencies in sharp contrast to other newspapers. But DPI said the contention is far from the truth. “This is wholly false. In the month of October, 2019 Stabroek News received a total of 171 advertisements from 23 government ministries, departments and agencies,” DPI said while presenting a list of 171 ads that were published in the privately owned newspaper. In support of its position, DPI also presented a sample of the clippings of such government advertising.
“On the very day when the syndicated editorial appeared, a total of 23 government advertisements, including full page advertisements appeared in Stabroek News,” DPI further pointed out.
For the period January 1 to November 18, 2019, the Government, through DPI, remitted to Stabroek News the sum of GY$51,975,704 as payment for advertisements placed in that newspaper. That amount, DPI said, was in addition to advertisements placed directly with the newspaper by various government ministries, agencies and departments. “This amount is far in excess of the amounts for previous years,” DPI was keen on noting.
It reminded that there are two central elements for which Stabroek News has not been forthright. According to DPI, it was Stabroek News that “unnecessarily” prejudiced itself when, on May 22, 2019, it instituted an unprecedented blockade of government advertisements from the newspaper. In the letter, which has were long made public by DPI, Guyana Publication Inc, publishers of Stabroek News, informed the government agency that due to little progress made in issuing payments of ads, a decision was taken to cease all ad placements effective June 1, 2019 until a substantial payment was made.
Added to that, DPI contended that Stabroek News’ reputation as a well-respected newspaper for its record of independent journalism is being tarnished under the editorship of Anand Persaud. According to DPI, Persaud has taken the newspaper down a politically partisan path.
“Stabroek News, once the leading credible, independent newspaper in Guyana, has become nakedly partisan and anti-government. The evidence is plentiful. We provide a sample. Mr. Timothy Jonas, a leading member of the newly formed A New and United Guyana (ANUG) political party is a member of the Board of Directors of the publisher of Stabroek News. Mr. Ralph Ramkarran SC, the ANUG presidential candidate, is a prominent weekly columnist in Stabroek News who comments ad nauseam on political matters and political competitors,” DPI argued. It further contended that Stabroek News does not avail other political parties of similar space in its pages.
It added: “Dr. Henry Jeffrey, a senior executive of ANUG, is also a prominent weekly columnist in Stabroek News. He too comments ad nauseam on political matters and political competitors.”
It is DPI’s belief that Stabroek News has become the de facto mouth piece of the ANUG and is using this contrived matter of advertising placement to manufacture a controversy which does not exist.
“Stabroek News has now sunken to the level of misinforming its regional counterparts with a view of furthering this campaign against the government of Guyana. It is clear too, that Stabroek News has resorted to political blackmail, under the cover of its baseless complaint of getting no state advertisements,” DPI stated.
Returning to the editorial published in the regional newspapers, the information agency in rubbishing claims that the David Granger Administration, subsequent to the December 2018 No-Confidence Motion, breached the Constitution, said contrary to the stories peddled by Stabroek News and the political opposition, President Granger has, at all times, acted in strict accordance with Guyana’s Constitution and the rulings of the court.
As was stated in the past, DPI said that it was the responsibility of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to facilitate elections and not the Government, emphasising that it was critical for the elections body to signal its readiness. It was only until September 19 that GECOM formally advised President Granger that it would be ready to hold elections by the end of February 2020. The President subsequently, declared March 2, 2020 as elections day.
“Under the Granger Presidency, Guyana has been restored to the status of a full democracy, with respect for human rights, especially the right to a free press,” DPI said.