Religious Grouping Calls for Higher Standards in The Media

Reverend Dr R Osbert James

by Linda Straker

A grouping of religious organisations wants radio and television stations talk-show hosts to better prepare themselves for topics that will be discussed live, and at the same time stop callers from abusing individuals via the live medium.

The Conference of Churches Grenada (CCG), which is a body comprising mainly of traditional religious denominations such as Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian, said in a statement that while the membership appreciates the opportunity electronic media houses give to ordinary citizens to express their views on various talk shows especially on FM Radio, there is need for better control.

“We realize what a powerful medium it is for educating, informing, and entertaining. However we would like to express two concerns. Sometimes the topics seem to have been chosen at random, without proper preparation, and are dealt with in a way that can be misleading to some people,” said the statement which is signed by Rev. Dr Osbert James who is presently the Chairman of the CCG.

The body which is a registered non governmental organisation, believes that to encourage an intelligent and informative discussion on certain topics, it is necessary to ensure that a resource person is available to correct any inaccurate views that may be expressed by callers.

“Especially those who articulate their opinions in a very authoritative manner, even when they propose what may be immoral or illegal. This can be misleading for your young and less-discerning listeners since all contributions seem to be accepted and given equal value without question by the host/hostess,” said the statement.

The CCG is also of the opinion that “ordinary decency demands that hosts/hostesses should not allow callers to be abusive or to use insulting or derogatory language especially towards named individuals live on air.”

In December 2016, the CCG was among a group of Social Partners who made a plea for Government to reconsider reintroducing the section of the Electronic Crimes Act which was repealed.

The Social Partners comprises representatives from the Private Sector; the Labour Unions; the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); the Conference of Churches in Grenada (CCG); the Association of Evangelical Churches (AEC); and Government.

The Partners at its monthly meeting agreed that the time is now critical for Government to revisit the Electronic Crimes Act, and have the relevant clauses that were removed entered into force, so that persons who are committing criminal act in violation of the law be appropriately penalized. 

The repealed sections of legislation were:

  • Section 6 of the Act mandated up to one year in prison for sending by electronic means any information that is “grossly offensive” or known to be false but reproduced in order to cause “annoyance”, “insult” or “ill will”.
  • Section 16 punished “electronic stalking” – defined as “intimidating, coercing, or annoying another person using an electronic system” – with up to three years in prison.
  • Section 25 allowed police to make warrantless arrests of anyone “reasonably suspected of committing an offence” under the Act. 

The CCG also called for the establishment of a National Censorship Board to address lyrics and visual content both on the radio, television and online platforms of media.

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