Government Information From A Government In Formation.

"The Government wants one hour per day of State-produced programming on its accomplishments to be aired on local radio and TV stations."

From some of the comments by online readers, I see that there are real fears about this development. As with all tools, they are as dangerous or as beneficial as the intentions of their wielders, and if many of us are disinclined to trust the government, it is understandable why we would react negatively to what we perceive as the feverishly spreading tentacles of a propaganda machine. Only time will tell whether this government information will be part of a genuine, intelligent Bootstrap event from a government in formation, or an aggressive, tactical manoeuvre of a band flying in formation for the attack.

I have always been a supporter of communication between the government and its employer - the people. When the Leader of the Opposition's motion of no confidence called the government to give an account, I thanked him and I advised the government to learn that there was a real need to be more transparent, to provide progress reports.  So the current fog of shocked disbelief and rage being experienced by many citizens coinciding with the government's realization only now that it needs to communicate does not surprise me but it also does not change my view that we need this information. If this government is now fighting for its survival, if it hopes to overcome and to grow into a creature worthy of trust and respect, this could be the beginning of its recovery. As a citizen, I'd be interested in being supplied with information. Let me decide if to take it or leave it or query it. I'd certainly prefer this over screaming silence or plenty, plenty garbled talk only when the heat is on. 

Having said that, I am not at all interested in a  "Sit back passively, dear citizen, and let us tell you what your caring government has accomplished on your behalf" approach. I believe that the most important facet of any accomplishment would be the consultative process. So this is why I would divide each issue into two parts. The first day would be for highlighting a particular issue which the government is addressing and I use the present participle - is addressing - since it is my belief that no issue goes away entirely. First there is a problem or a planned development, then there is the work that goes into addressing its eradication or introduction and then there is the ongoing monitoring/maintenance/tweaking. The issue could be introduced by a panel of government and other experts and they can discuss what has been tried in the past in this country, what has been done elsewhere, how this government is thinking about, or actively approaching the issue. This introduction should stimulate thought and would allow the interested population to mull over the issue for a day and then be ready the next day to offer their two cents. You can take inputs by e-mail to sift out the pranksters but I think that those genuinely interested in making a serious contribution would have the satisfaction of knowing that it is not only when their heels are pounding pavements that their voices will be respected, that their government will listen.

To adapt some lines from Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall:

"We don't need no propaganda
We don't need no thought control!"


The communication has to involve information flows in both directions. There must be feedback from the nation. It must be solicited. In fact, it is sometimes the feedback mechanism that alerts the managers to issues requiring attention.  Of course, this feedback should not be limited only to what is solicited during this programme. It would be impossible given the limitation of time to take all submissions but these can be directed to an address off air. Like I mentioned before in a previous post, other countries have recognised the importance of feedback and have implemented systems to harvest and harness this valuable resource towards national improvement. 

About local content: 
"He [Minister Jamal Mohammed] used Canada as an example of a country which implemented legislation to increase local content." ....

"She [Kiran Maharaj] also used the example of Canada but pointed out that this country's population was substantially larger than Trinidad and Tobago's and there was a sizeable market for local content there.

"However, in Trinidad and Tobago, the format of local stations was dictated by what society wanted to hear and watch."
My thoughts on this are that if our local content is of good quality, there will be a local demand for it. So is it that "society" has in the past rejected good quality local content in favour of foreign content? I am asking. I have no idea. I don't think that "society" is going to start preferring something if it does not exist. Also, if it is of good quality, use the same substantially larger Canadian/North American/European/World market and target the Trinbagonian/Caribbean diaspora. My personal preference is always the sweet relief of seeing and hearing Caribbean landscapes, faces and voices. Many of you must have seen the film "The Mystic Masseur". I've seen that over half a dozen times on cable television here and if it comes on again I will be most present. Why? Because it is set in Trinidad, there are some Trinidadian actors and the book on which it was based was written by our V.S. Naipaul. I have no doubt that our local film industry can produce similar or superior products.

The diaspora wants your local programming so if Trinbagonians at home have developed a taste for American content, come to the Trinbagonians outside where we are located all over the world. Maybe like with so many other indigenous products, the status and the demand for it will increase locally only after it has been exported and come full circle. If there were any Caribbean channels offered by our cable provider I would have already selected those. Right now I rely on YouTube for snippets of everything Trinbagonian, even when how we present ourselves there cuts me to the soul.
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!