ABLP pulls advertisements from OBSERVER media

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The Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) has pulled all its advertisements from the OBSERVER Media Group of Companies. The media entity received the notification via an email on March 16, mere days before voters go to the polls to elect the next administration to govern the country. 
The email was sent by the ABLP’s Media Coordinator, Neil Butler, after normal working hours.
Butler, who has been the party’s point man on advertising, and has been responsible for the submission of all campaign advertising, complained of a number of issues including not being in possession of a contract and the quality of print advertising.  
In his email, he stated, “We are also very dissatisfied about the quality of service given by the Observer group of companies in general. Furthermore, as you have refused to carry our specific ads on the farce of defamation, we are demanding that all of our ads be pulled and their publication and broadcast stopped immediately.”
The media coordinator ended his email demanding “a full refund of all monies paid.”
When contacted for a comment, Darren Derrick, Chief Operations Officer for the OBSERVER Media Group (OMG) confirmed that the email had been received.
However, he said that the ABLP decided to cease advertising with OMG after negotiations for a discount did not meet the party’s demands. 
Derrick added that the OBSERVER “maintains a policy to ensure fair and equal pricing for all political parties during any election campaign period.”
 He added that the policy was supported by the rules and guidelines recently disseminated by the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC). 
Derrick said that the ABLP remained welcome to advertise at OMG and he hoped that the situation was temporary.
Recently, ABEC Chairman Nathaniel ‘Paddy’ James, circulated a Rules of Media House press statement advising that each party must be treated equally.
The notice from James makes reference to the Representation of the People Act, revised edition 1992.
In the list of rules made by ABEC, section 4 states, “No radio or television station or management thereof shall charge more than the ordinary and or hourly rate for advertisement of material to promote the candidacy of a candidate at the ensuing election in order to prevent the candidate from being able to broadcast or advertise the said material at an hourly rate.”
Derrick said that all the parties were offered advertising at the same rate and all the other parties have been paying without any issue.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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