The issuance of state-sponsored advertisements to select media houses during the Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C)’s rule was wrong, says former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
His admission comes at a time when one daily newspapers, Stabroek News, is accusing the Department of Public Information (DPI) of exhibiting bias through selective placement and decreased advertisement submissions.
DPI claimed that it was Stabroek News that requested a stoppage. The request by the news entity, media reports say, was made after DPI was unable to settle outstanding arrears.
Since then, reference is constantly being made to the PPP/C’s tenure in office, during which it exhibited favoritism in allocating advertisements. Jagdeo says that was wrong, noting that all media houses should have benefitted from state advertisements.
“We said we will advertise – at the time I was President – with newspapers [and] that more ads will go to the newspapers that had the highest circulation. In retrospect, it may be the wrong decision. I think that there should be some way of ensuring that all private media, regardless of where they stand (Benefit from State ads. But looking forward, I think we should have in the new government, an arrangement where all the private media benefit from state assets. State ads must not be used in punitive manner. I did not do it in a punitive sense but notwithstanding that, I think it was wrong,” he said.
In 2016, Jagdeo’s government’s information arm withdrew advertising to allegedly punish two newspapers. This cut continued for over a year until protest actions, and calls from the opposition – now in government – resulted in a cessation.