Last Tuesday was a day of shame and infamy for Freedom of Speech in Trinidad & Tobago when the ANSA MCAL conglomerate killed the popular and profitable Panchyatt program that aired on the 106.1fm radio station from 6 to 9 am. It has been reported that Brandon Khan who is one of the senior managers at ANSA MCAL justified the decision to shut down the program because it was too pro-PP govt. In the annals of journalism in Trinidad & Tobago this is the most blatant political partisanship by a media house and it certainly demonstrates to all that ANSA MCAL has no qualms in telling all and sundry that they are now supporting the PNM and are against the PP government.
What is even more shocking than this political bias by ANSA MCAL is that other radio stations e.g. 95.5fm are openly PNM but no one complains about these stations being pro-PNM. Is it that ANSA MCAL and other conglomerates are participants in a conspiracy to attack the PP government with the objective of killing democracy in Trinidad and Tobago?
One has to believe Brandon Khan that the reason was totally political since Panchyaat is one of, if not, the most profitable radio programme in Trinidad & Tobago, with a huge demand for ad spots at a premium price during the Panchyaat slot. This programme contains the highest density of ads and is one of the most popular morning programme. Thus, it was not because of lack of profits but naked partisan politics from the ANSA MCAL conglomerate that led to the executives of that company pulling the plug. ANSA MCAL has made millions from that programme but suddenly they stopped it; is it mere coincidence that this blatant political action was taken just after Radio Jaagrati was attacked? No, it does not seem so.
But, does ANSA MCAL honestly believe that supporters of the PP government will continue to support the two ANSA MCAL Indo-oriented radio stations – 106.1fm and 106.5fm, after the blatant political action in killing the Panchyaat programme? And, does ANSA MCAL thinks the supporters of the PP government will continue to be customers of the ANSA MCAL companies? Surely, ANSA MCAL does not think so, or do they?
It is time now for the supporters of the PP government, businesses, and all those who advocate Freedom of Speech, to express their strong disapproval of the shameful political action by ANSA MCAL, and to go further by boycotting the ANSA MCAL radion stations 106.1fm and 106.5fm, as well as all companies owned by ANSA MCAL. Support the other Indo-oriented radio stations and stop purchasing items from any ANSA MCAL company, including ads at the GUARDIAN, CNC3, and the other ANSA MCAL radio stations.
Citizens of Trinidad & Tobago must now be even more vigilant as ANSA MCAL and other conglomerates may intensify their campaign to undermine the PP government by measures such as closing down of programmes such as Panchyaat and directives to their media companies to support the PNM and attack the PP government. While ANSA MCAL goes on a rampage against the PP government and while agent provocateurs attack Radio Jaagrit, not a word comes from the Media association of T&T or from those foreign organizations that profess a love for a free and fair media, and who attack the PP government whenever it responds to anything in the pro-Opposition media.
War has now been openly declared against the PP government by ANSA MCAL and others. It is time for the supporters of the PP government and those who care about a free and fair Press to speak out and advocate against those who want to defy the will of the people and who want to stifle and suppress the voice of the people.
Long live Trinidad & Tobago. Long live freedom of speech and a Free and Fair Press. Down with dictatorial conglomerates like ANSA MCAL!
Michael P. Persad.