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Hughes proposes that broadcasters produce their own PSAs

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By Devina Samaroo

Lamenting that there is insufficient public service information being disseminated to the public, Minister of Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes suggested that private broadcasting networks get into the habit of producing their own public service announcements.

Minister Hughes said she understands the concerns expressed by the broadcasters but she argued that the proposed amendments are in no way draconian or an infringement on press freedom.

During her debate of the Broadcasting Amendment Bill 2017 in the National Assembly on Friday, Hughes underscored the importance of educational and information being provided to the public and urged that private broadcasters engage the government for advice on the way forward in producing such programmes.

The Minister further explained that broadcasting networks in other countries produce their own public service announcements and she expressed hope that local entities soon advance in this direction.

“If they can produce their own I am sure it can be counted as the public service programmes” Hughes said, adding, “We are here to work with you.”

Hughes added that the amendments in the broadcast act do not obligate broadcasting entities to air programmes for a full hour every day.

“The requirement could be anywhere from 1 minute to 60 minutes,” she stated, indicating that the programmes do not have to last for the entire hour.

One of the contentious issues of the amendment bill is the requirement of broadcastings to air public service programmes as defined by the bill for up to 60m per day for free.

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