Delegates buoyed by Caribbean media conference success
Committee to monitor recommendations

By William Walker
Stabroek News
May 8, 2000

The 3rd Annual Caribbean Media Conference emerged from the rainforest yesterday armed with the seeds to propagate journalistic solidarity in the region.

Delegates in a convoy of four TATA buses descended on the sleepy Emerald Tower Resort up the Linden highway for the final day of the conference.

Amongst the informal recommendations coming out of the three-day seminar was the inevitable formation of a committee to monitor the implementation of the informal recommendations....

Barbara Gould of Jamaica boldly proposed Oliver Clarke of the Gleaner to provide the financing and the members would be picked from the three countries who have so far hosted the conference. In the face of enthusiastic approval for her motion, a chastened Clarke relented though he clarified he would help in finding financing. Clarke swiftly sounded out the delegates on the country for the next conference and there was "unanimous approval" for Grenada despite no representatives from that island being there.

Wyvoyln Gager Editor-in-Chief of the Gleaner revealed that a number of delegates had decided to set up a website to be called the Caribbean Media Network which could be a resource for editors and journalists in the region. The representative from UNESCO volunteered to find funds to set this up. Mark Robinson of the Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) graciously volunteered the CPU's October conference in Barbados as a site for a mid-year assessment of this meeting's recommendations.

Editor-in-chief of the Stabroek News David de Caires, inspired by Barbadian Prime Minister Owen Arthur's speech for Caribbean unity urged the media in the region to shrug off their parochialism. "It is an ideology of West Indian identity that should drive integration." To this end, the media should help by carrying feature articles from other countries in the region, he suggested.

Gilbert Ahnee, from Mauritius, his lonely island in the Indian Ocean, spoke enviously of what he had seen in his few days here as a true Caribbean identity and thought we were all taking it for granted. All agreed that this had been the best conference yet and thanked the organisers for their hospitality.

The delegates had earlier climbed out of the buses and run into the dense jungle of copyright law as presented by Alison Demas.

While the rains fell, the Trinidadian entertainment lawyer gave a more than comprehensive history of various copyright conventions dating back to the seventeenth century. Amongst her recommendations was that government should give tax incentives to promote local programming. She chastised some broadcasters in the region who whilst pirating complained of the same treatment. "How do you expect to have your copyrights respected when you don't respect the rights of others?" Demas described a number of copyright systems in the region where bodies negotiate licensing and collect fees on behalf of authors and musicians amongst others but said more was needed to be done to convince the participants of their value. Early preparations are underway for a Caribbean Copyright Organisation.

Enrico Woolford, of WRHM fame noted with a smile, the prevalence in Guyana for some broadcasters to pirate programmes from abroad and put their logos on it.

Demas noted there was a need for legislation that addressed the freedom of the internet and ultimately concluded that copyright will not die but will accommodate the new technology to the benefit of the content providers.

Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture Gail Teixeira, setting out for Emerald Tower got her precious stones mixed up with her precious metals and arrived over an hour late having gone to Silver Hill!

Teixeira looked at copyright in the context of the developed world's attempts to protect their own creations and plunder from developing nations. She spoke of "smell molecules" from Guyana showing up in a designer perfume and described one delegate's suggestion that Guyana should "go slow" on signing any international copyright law as interesting. She said Guyana's own copyright legislation is being redrafted and should be ready for parliament by the end of the second quarter.