July 20, 2021

Symon Doubles Down On Commitment To “Free And Fair” Press, Condemns Sensationalization Of TTT Issue

By Newsroom

Communications Minister Symon de Nobriga has hit back at what he deems the Opposition Leader’s “attempt at relevance” in commenting on a allegations of government giving unfair advantage to state owned media house TTT Limited, exclusive access on State related assignments. 

Responding to what appeared to be an unofficial government policy of granting exclusive access to state owned media house TTT, while limiting private media on certain assignments,Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar said this is tantamount to censorship, and sets a dangerous precedent.

“Let me be clear – this policy is tantamount to state censorship of our independent media. And it is yet another glaring red flag that this PNM government views itself as a dictatorial regime that is above the rule of law and doesn’t need to answer to the public,” she said in a statement.

In response, Minister de Nobriga reaffirmed that there is no such policy.

“It is with some amusement that I juxtaposed her release’s meandering contents against the media hijinks that the Member for Siparia presided over during her tenure as leader of the United National Congress. No amount of excessive hyperbole and fear-mongering through her messaging can erase that legacy,” he said.

“It is instructive that this release comes just in time to distract attention from the ongoing debacle her party finds itself in at the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation with the resignation of their UNC Councillor as Chairman of the Finance Committee, having been charged with Misbehaviour in Public Office,” the Communications Minister noted.

How did these claims of government censorship come about?

In a report by News At 7’s Kejan Haynes which aired on Monday, it was stated that Minister de Nobriga said the  was being done to give TTT an advantage against its competitors.

Particular reference was made to the repatriation exercise for 700 Venezuelans which took place over the weekend, in which TTT journalists and cameramen were allowed access inside the Cruise Ship Complex, while private media personnel were told to wait outside. 

But Communications Minister Symon de Nobriga denied the policy was a real one, saying he had made the comment as a lighthearted joke which was not meant to be taken seriously.

“Given the large numbers and in keeping with the health protocols it was determined that only TTT and the Information Division would have access; however the Director of Government Communications had been instructed to ensure that all footage of the event be made available to all media houses once they requested same,” the Minister said.