Response is being made to Stabroek News Editor-in-Chief’s note to my letter “The parties need to sit down and have the state ads matter resolved” (SN Nov 10th).
I am not going to get into the back and forth as to who is right or wrong on the matter of the present non-placing of advertisements (ads) by the Department of Public Information (DPI) in the Stabroek News (SN).
Consequently, from the outset the point was made that the facts be presented to allow the truth to prevail and a resolution arrived at.
In so doing my letter was centred around the evidence that was in the public domain.
In negotiating, it is always advised to seek to avoid boxing oneself into a position because leaving the door open to an option avoids one being left out in the cold.
By SN’s admission, it advised the DPI it will not carry their ads until paid. I am not unaware that this is a strict business arrangement and the business owner reserves the right to determine how the debt can be recovered, when it wants to pull the plug and or for whatever reason(s). Similarly, I am not unaware a client will always take positions to protect his or interest and that is his or her right.
It is the first time the public is being advised by the papers that the “DPI for a number of months refused to provide any assurance to SN about the extinguishing of the debt some of which pertained to 2018 and therefore no deal could be worked out.”
At the same, in our country it has become custom and practice for government to owe clients (building contractors, newspapers, suppliers of goods and services, even NIS, etc).
It is also known that regardless of which administration holds the rein of government, those debts are expected to be honoured or the government can be taken to court and the court gives a just and fair award. Government is usually seen as a credible client.
The statement by the President about fair coverage in the media, though it can be argued who determines same and such should not be made, it came subsequent to the act of non-payment of ads and directive that ads will not be published until the debt is honoured.
This is the reason why I proposed the facts must be made known and in so doing the issue(s) that gave rise to the breaking down of the relationship between the parties be identified and corrective action taken on same.
It should be said even as the Editor-in-Chief pointed to this issue of fair coverage, an article in the newspaper of the said date- “Press body criticises Granger’s comments on allocation of state ads to media-presidency says remarks misrepresented, calls for apology” – there is a dispute between the Guyana Press Association and the Office of the President as to what the President said or meant. What is noted in that article is the President being quoted as saying “media houses…must all be given fair access to the advertisements of the State. It is a state resource. It is not a private resource.”
Here exists an opening for negotiation.
With regards to the reference of the 2006 withdrawal of ads by the Bharrat Jagdeo administration and present situation under the David Granger administration the context as to what informed the decision is different.
In 2006, the then government withdrew its business. In 2019, the newspaper withdrew from carrying the client’s product until the debt was cleared.
While both carry financial consequences they occurred out of different circumstance.
In this instance on the withdrawal of the ads, SN initiated the act after being owed and advocating it be paid.
This is where the relationship broke down and it is best advised the repairing starts.
Having read the Inter-American Declaration of Chapultepec, it couldn’t be found where a media house could advise a client (government) of not carrying its ads until a debt is settled and when the client takes its business elsewhere it could be deemed denial of press freedom.
I want to see Stabroek News as a viable media house and on this occasion I urge the newspaper to sit at the table and negotiate the return of the ads from DPI.
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