Closure of regional news agency a blow
Stabroek News
January 10, 2002

Dear Editor,

It is with much concern and disappointment that many West Indians and other persons with the Caribbean at heart have received word of a "temporary" shutdown of operations at the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

Since its inception over 25 years ago, the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) has been a major unit for the dissemination of information on events and developments in our various nations and territories. By so doing, it has become an important institution, playing a major role in Caribbean unity and integration.The loss of such services would result in major setbacks in the current moves towards greater unification, free trade and a single-market economy.

As one Jamaican editorial writer put it, modern economies and democracies function most efficiently when they have a free and timely flow of information.

Financial constraints notwithstanding, we just cannot allow the CMC to die.The reasons for the company's present crisis are believed to be lack of adequate managerial strength and funding. However, having worked for several years as a CANA correspondent in the early days, when it was in full swing, I know that this organisation can do better.

It starts with Caricom officials and media interests in the region working out a plan to commercialise the Caribbean Media Corpora-tion. A strong effort must be made to offer lucrative and enticing packages to the business community, which also has a role to play in promoting regional awareness and togetherness.

Additionally, newspaper and electronic media houses on the various islands are partly to blame for the state of affairs with CMC, for even though many West Indian journalists have laboured long and hard to promote the Caribbean diaspora, certain island operations seem not to care about what is happening with their neighbours.

Incidentally, the Caribbean Media Corporation is not the only regional media company that has suspended operations in recent days. The Miami-based Caribbean News Service (CNS), a Christian-oriented outfit, also suffered a similar fate as a result of financial difficulties.

We have been informed that a special Caricom meeting will take place this week in the Turks and Caicos Islands, during which Caribbean officials are expected to consider a so-called "Rescue Aid Package" for the regional media corporation.

One notes that since the weekend announcement, Caricom Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, as well as a number of top media personnel, were among persons lamenting the suspension of CMC's services.

My Guyanese colleague, Rickey Singh, in one of his latest reports, noted that the critical cash flow problem being faced can only be solved through a financially- diverse rescue package.

Yours faithfully,

Ken Thomas, freelance journalist

Editor's note:

One reason for the financial crisis that has not been mentioned is the withdrawal by Reuter from the joint Cana/Reuter service which forced Cana (CMC) to offer its service alone. Reuter has claimed it was not getting its fair share of the joint fee. Subscribers to Reuter have had to make new direct arrangements for that service.