Opposition parliamentarian and businessman Peter Bunting has claimed that mass media in Jamaica effectively has been bribed into telling positive stories about the government, adding that new and independent means are now required to hold the administration accountable.
He indicated that, especially since the Jamaica Labour Party administration was elected two years ago, Government has been taking advantage of mass media’s increasing vulnerability as it relates to revenues.
“They (media entities) are basically scrounging around to get advertising and for their old traditional models to be sustained,” Bunting reasoned.
“In Jamaica, we have seen recently – certainly in the last two years, a certain passivity of media towards the government. In fact, in many cases, they seem to spend most of their time doing public relations for the government.”
“But the truth of the matter is, when you look at radio programmes [and] talk shows, big chunks of them are sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister. You look on our leading daily newspapers, front page stories everyday…are sponsored again by the government. You realize that he who pays the piper, calls the tunes,” Bunting further said in the latest edition of his audio-visual production called Probe.
Bunting also said ‘many’ experienced media practitioners are now engaged at various government ministries, departments, and agencies.
He argued that, in the absence of independent media, civil society and other members of the public have a greater role to play in holding Government accountable.
“What we are facing today in Jamaica is a hobbled mass media. And how do we hold a government to account when the media which tend to lead public opinion are instead apologists for the administration?”
“It is going to require a much more vigilant citizenry, a much more vigilant set of civil society organizations, and increasingly creative use of new media by persons who still believe that an independent voice holding government accountable is central to our democracy,” Bunting further said.