Workers at Newspaper, State-Owned TV and Radio Complain of Control
Apr. 03, 1996
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Allegations of government constraints on the news media have brought the departure of the top editors of Trinidad's oldest newspaper, and sharp protests from state-owned radio and television.
Chief editor Jones P. Madeira became the latest to leave the Trinidad Guardian on Tuesday, citing ``constant attacks on the press that raise serious doubts about whether there will be a free environment.''
Six other executives at the daily Guardian and Sunday Guardian already have left in a racially charged dispute that began six weeks ago when the prime minister of the Caribbean islands' nation demanded Madeira's firing.
Basdeo Panday complained that a Guardian editorial called him a liar when it called upon him to substantiate his claims that an opposition group was planning violent protests against his new government.
Panday in November was elected as Trinidad and Tobago's first leader of East Indian origin, ending black political domination in this former British colony. Panday accused Madeira _ who is black _ of racism.
On Monday, Madeira's boss announced to the news staff that he had been fired, in part because he refused to remove a columnist critical of Panday.
``The media here is under attack,'' newspaper director Alwin Chow said.
Anthony Sabga, chairman of the Ansa McAl group that owns the 78-year-old newspaper, said Chow wasn't fired, but quit. Sabga cited ``sharp differences'' between Chow and the newspaper board. He refused further comment.
Meanwhile, news staff of the state-owned radio and television stations issued a written protest Monday against last week's appointment of a former ruling party legislator as a reporter covering Parliament and as a talk show host.
The journalists said they feared the appointment could lead to outside control of the networks' news programs.