Opposition leader charges no access to state media

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The Leader of the Opposition Baldwin Spencer has charged that political biases are

playing a role in deciding which individuals and which groups are allowed airtime on the state owned Antigua Broadcasting Service (ABS) television (TV) and radio.

Spencer declared that ABS has “an unwritten policy” of “not allowing access by the official opposition” and argued that the matter of “openness and accessibility” needed to be revisited.

“The way things have been approached in recent times is that without clearly stating there is an embargo on access to the leaders of the United Progressive Party (UPP) on ABS radio and TV,” he said.

Spencer, who served as a two-term prime minister, said that under his administration, “We had an open policy because it’s public media” and it belongs to the people of Antigua & Barbuda.”

While he admitted that he did not know “if there is a concrete policy that is laid down which allows for the freedom of political parties” he recalled:

“There was one incident a year ago when I wanted to give an Independence or New Year’s message and it would have been awkward for me to do it personally and I suggested that the political leader of the UPP could make that presentation on my behalf and it was bluntly refused.

“They said that was a slot only for the leader of the opposition in Parliament and only the leader of the opposition in Parliament can speak or have access to that space.”

When contacted, the general manager of ABS said she had not heard Spencer’s statements – made on OBSERVER radio – and preferred to respond later in the week once she had.

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