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Introduction


690px-Flag_of_Antigua_and_Barbuda.svg.png
National Flag of Antigua and Barbuda



Antigua and Barbuda are twin-island nations located a few miles apart in the middle of the Leeward Islands inbetween the Carribean Sea and the Altantic Ocean.
The 2011 Census states that the population of the two nations is 81,000 with 24,000 of that population lying in the capital St. Johns and 98% of the population residing in dominant Antigua.
St John's Cathedral
St John's Cathedral

The government is a parliamentary democracry and a federal constitutional monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II. Due to their colonialists ties since 1632 and only becoming an independent state in 1981, Antigua and Barbuda's language (official language being English and the local language being Antiguan Creole), culture (Cricket is the national sport) and governing systems are heavily influenced by the British.

This is also reflected in their dominant religion, Christianity, with 74% of the population belonging to the Antigua Christian Council which encompasses Anglicans (26%) and Methodists.

Antigua and Barbuda are not as technologically advanced as their imperial counterparts. Although having a literacy rate of 89%, less than half (38,200) use a mobile phone. In 2003 it was recorded that 10,000 used the internet that was established in the country in 2001.

Antiguans and Barbudans are almost entirely of African descent however their population also includes British, Portuguese, Lebanese and Syrian ancestry.

The main source of revenue for the nations comes from tourism and is supplemented through agriculture, fishing and light industry. Due to sanctions and money laundering issues offshore financial sectors have failed.


Types of Media

Radio

In 1997 there was 5,000 more radios in Antigua and Barbuda then there were televisions, thus there is more diversity in radio stations in the two countries then there are television. Several of the listed radio stations exist on a few hundred listeners.
The high number of religious in the population is also represented in the radio media.

These include:
  • ABS Radio: The Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service.
  • Abundant Life Radio: Catering to the high religious proportion of the population
  • Caribbean Radio Lighthouse: Another religious missionary radio station operated by the Baptist Church.
    Hitz fm radio station logo
    Hitz fm radio station logo
  • Crusader Radio: Owned by the Crusader Publications and Broadcasting limited under the United Progressive Party.
  • Hit Radio
  • Hitz FM: The most recently established radio station.
  • Liberty Radio
  • Nice FM
  • Observer Radio: In 2001 was the first independent radio station for the area.
  • Power FM: Broadcasts internationally.
  • Second Advent Radio: Catering to the Adventists of the population
  • Variety Radio
  • Vybz FM: Music, Information and Entertainment.


Print Media:

Antigua and Barbuda have a mixture of both daily and weekly newspapers and magazines all printed in English. However in April 2010, one of the two most prominent newspapers in the nations, Antigua Sun, ceased circulation due to the collapsing of their parent company SPPC, leaving Daily Observer (owned by the Observer Media Group who also publishers newspapers on surrounding Caribbean Islands as well as owning the Observer Radio Station) remaining. Despite this dominance it is generally thought that newspapers suffer the least government interruption out of all media platforms.

Front cover of the Daily Observer
Front cover of the Daily Observer

Newspapers and Magazines include:
  • The Daily Observer: Owner by the Observer Media Group and available online.
  • The Liat Island: Quarterly Magazine.
    Observer Media Group logo
    Observer Media Group logo
  • The Sunday Scoop
  • The Worker's Voice: The official publication of the ALP and the Antigua Traders and Labour Union. Has a circulation of 6,000 (2002).
  • The Nation: Circulation of 1,500. Published weekly by the government.
  • The Outlet: Circulation of 5,000. Published weekly by the Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement.




Television:

Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Services is a government owned service and broadcasts the ABS TV Channel 10 under CMatt Communications. This is the only Antiguan and Barbudan television station with the other television channels in the nation coming from international and other Caribbean Broadcasters.


The Internet:

As previously mentioned the Internet was only introduced into Barbuda and Antigua in 2001, and had 10,000 users by 2003 supported by 16 internet services providers. The government is said to dominate all electronic media and restricts opposing political expression and media.


Ownership of the Media



Freedom of press is assured in the constitution, however the Prime Minister and respective counterparts filter the near entirety of formal media groups across the country making it difficult for unregulated information to get to the people. These regulatory issues are generally only concerned with electronic forms of media, such as radio and internet. This is made relevant in 2010 with the arrest of the editor and publisher of the Daily Observer, a local newspaper, when it started a radio station that broadcasted opposing views to the current government on the premise of operation without a license. With this knowledge, Antigua and Barbuda's print media is mostly government owned and operated with the exception of The Daily Observer which is owned by the Observer Media Group.

The state has a monopoly on the media with the exception of Observer Media Group's outlets, this poses more problems than meet the eye. With mostly state run media the implications for the people a far greater than the superficial ill-informed voter. Without unfiltered information the people of Antigua and Barbuda arguably put too much trust in the government. The government operates 5 of the 6 largest magazine and newspaper outlets in the country, atop of that alarming fact, there are only 4 out the top 12 radio stations that are privately operated with the rest operated by the government or religious groups. These figures are staggering because the government not only owns the majority of formal media, they seemingly own the thoughts of the majority of the population. With people fed information the government wants them to exposed to they intrinsically lose the right to think for themselves.

It is vitally important that the people are given a choice in a democratic society, even though governments filter media to keep them in parliament, the people still have a choice to seek private media. Observer Media Group offers Observer Radio 91.1FM Voice of the People and 91.9 Hitz FM, among these they offer The Daily Observer (print and online) these are the only privately operated forms of media broadcasted from the country, the rest consist of international imported media and, of course, government run ventures.




Regulation of the Media


Antigua and Barbuda have signed the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, which among other things, specifies that journalists are included in the categories of workers allowed free movement within the region. Antigua and Barbuda has a general repsect for freedom of the press, however essentially all the media outlets have affiliation with the government, either current or past. The Bird government, which has caused controversy regarding its control over the media, continues to own and control television, newspaper and radio outlets. Of the three radio stations, the government owns one, and also owns the public television station.

Antigua and Barbuda currently does not work with a Media Accountability System (MAS) in place, which is used to aid the progress of professional journalistic standards. However, in November of 2008 the government announced a new legislation that would be put in place, as the media situation had been labeled as irresponsible.

Internet Regulation:

Although there are concerns from The Antigua and Barbuda Media Congress that new legislation would result in media censorship, the government of Antigua and Barbuda does not currently regualte access to the internet. Internet only arrived in Antigua and Barbuda in 2001, and therefore internet users were only at 44% of the population in 2007 (but has since risen). Users are currently free to express and ideas and viewpoints and access all parts of the internet. However, internet availability is not as high as many other countries and therefore there is the possibility that as internet usage grows, new regualtions may be executed. Currently there is talk of a new broadcasting act that will, if put into action, "monitor and enforce standards of conduct by which the print and electronic media will be expected to govern"- Dame Louis Lake-Tack.

Newspaper Regulations:

There were 2 daily newspapers, The Daily Observer and the Antigua Sun however, it ceased production in April of 2010. The Outlet was a weekly paper, but has also since ceased publication. Print media was forced to fight for its rights in 2001, and won several court cases against the Bird government (Prime minister Lester B. Bird) which had originally banned The Outlet from reporting on an embezzlement issue which involved the minister, and a second injunction served to The Outlet for reporting on medical malpractice.

Television Regulation:

There is only one freely available television service, run by ABN, and one cable television company. The freely available television service is run by the government.

Radio Regulation:

Until 2001, the Prime Minister Lester B. Bird and his family owned and dominated the broadcast media in Antigua and Barbuda, however after a series of court cases, and a four-year battle, a private radio station was allowed to broadcast. This radio station (Observer Radio) however, is also owned by another media monopoly, The Daily Observer. The station is carefully observed at all times by the government, and there are often threats to shut it down.


Freedom of the Press


Freedom of the Press in the United States is generally protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which prohibits the government from interfering with the printing and distribution of information or opinions. Although freedom of the press, similar to freedom speech is subject to some restrictions such as deformation and copyright laws. Antigua and Barbuda are considered to be partly free in terms of freedom of the press with a score of 38 out of 100 (the lower the freer). There are three accounts of how 'free' the press is in Antigua and Barbuda, one in 2002, 2008 and 2011.

In 2002, the main television, radio and cable services were controlled by the ruling Antigua Labour Party and the Bird Family, which ruled for decades and the opposition were finding it extremely hard to gain access into broadcast media. The print media on the other hand offered a wider and more extensive range of opinion and the first independent radio station which opened in April of 2002 has made a greater scope of media representation and opinion.

In 2008, relations between the United Progressive Party (UPP) government and privately owned media remained strained. The detention and expulsion of two prominent Caribbean journalists in June created a storm of protest across the region. Journalists are within the category of workers that are allowed to move within the Caribbean considering that Antigua and Barbuda are one of the signatories to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy which allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the region. In November of 2008, the government announced an approaching legislation to treat what they labelled as 'irresponsible' media by broadcasting an act that would aim to set, monitor and enforce standards of conduct by which the print and electronic media will be expected to be governed. However, the Antigua and Barbuda Media Congress thought this act would result in media censorship.

In 2011, defamation which remained as a criminal offence proved to be a considerable concern against journalists. The main source of friction between the authorities and the media is the lack of clarity about what subjects can be discussed on radio talk shows. The issue formed out of an incident in December of 2010 where a prominent attorney appealed for a order preventing three talk show hosts from discussing an ongoing judicial process involving a former chief magistrate and another lawyer. The attorney was successful and denied any allegations that the action constituted a curb on press freedom stating that "The laws of freedom of expression have expressly recognised as an exception to freedom of expression the law of court."

Generally, Antigua and Barbuda provide freedom of speech and press and the government generally respects these rights however, they are only considered partly free and not wholly free therefore there is always room for some form of government regulation.

Emerging Trends in Media


Use of Internet

As internet in Antigua and Barbuda has been introduced since 2001, the number of internet user in Antigua and Barbuda is continuously growing.
By mid-2009, there were 65000 users and by 2010, 80 percent of the population accessed the internet. There are not many government restrictions on internet in Antigua and Barbuda which led people to express their opinion freely. [1]
Also, most of the radio and television such as ABS Radio, Hit Radio and ABS Television have adopted live streaming online to let people can listen and watch media anytime.

Internet Usage and Population Statistics
YEAR
Users
Population
% Pen.
GDP p.c.*
Usage Source
2000
5,000
69,500
7.2 %
US$ 7,653
ITU
2002
10,000
71,275
14.0 %
US$ 8,037
ITU
2006
29,000
72,377
40.1 %
US$ 10,000
ITU
2009
65,000
85,632
75.9 %
US$ 10,000
ITU
2010
65,000
86,754
74.9 %
US$ 13,825
ITU
Note: Per Capita GDP in US dollars, source: International Monetary Fund. [2]

Social Network Media

Antiguan government has started to emphasis the value of social media. The president of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) Vic Fernandes acknowledged that traditional media should embrace social media which is a new change of media. He indicated new technology as an opportunity, not an enemy, that will help to grow and expand Antigua's media industry to reach audiences. [3]
As internet develops into the mainstream of people's daily lives, many in Antigua and Barbuda also have started accessing social media. For example, Facebook show statistics of Antigua and Barbuda that there are 33200 Facebook users which has been grown by more than 660 in the last six months.
Facebook penetration in Antigua and Barbuda is 38.27 percent of the population and 51.08 percent of internet users in the country. They have been ranked at 174th of Facebook statistics by country.

Change of an idea about media in government

In 2004, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda changed from Bird's family to Baldwin Spencer who was an opposition leader for fighting against state owned media, such as ABS television to argue that citizens in democratic society have a right to hear an opposing political perspectives on government's action.
After Prime Minister of Antiguan government has changed to Spencer, government has started to signify information and communications technology as a key contributor to the development of the country. The Government has established some key organisations such as an Information Technology Centre, a Government Data Centre, and a wide range of networks. From this technological medium, the government wants to achieve promotion of public awareness, public access to government information, online government services, the provision of an e-commerce portal, affordable access to computers, and human capacity building.
Antiguan government has created a partnership with LIME, the Caribbean's leading communications company and in charge of Landline, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment. LIME provides broadband plans about internet access as well as landline and network service in Antigua. It will support and provide access and network that people can reach the media through their computers and mobile phones.


Strengthening ICT education

The Government in Antigua and Barbuda has set a scheme called Technology for Education 20/20. One policy in this scheme is providing laptops to teachers in over two dozen public and private schools. The Government has partnered with LIME, a telecommunication company, to provide a full connection of the information and internet connectivity. The government asked teachers to assist them in preparing for and managing classes as well as assist in research and best practices. The cost of high-speed Internet connectivity at teacher's homes will be reduced in terms of time and space. [4]



References

Introduction:

Types of Media:

Ownership of the Media:

Regulation:

Freedom of the Press:

Emerging Trends in Media:


  1. ^ Antigua and Barbuda | Freedom House. 2012. Antigua and Barbuda | Freedom House. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2011/antigua-and-barbuda. [Accessed 16 August 2012].
  2. ^ Antigua and Barbuda Internet Usage and Telecommunications Reports. 2012.Antigua and Barbuda Internet Usage and Telecommunications Reports. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.internetworldstats.com/car/ag.htm. [Accessed 15 August 2012].
  3. ^ CBU President Says Embrace Social Media | CARIBARENA ANTIGUA. 2012. CBU President Says Embrace Social Media | CARIBARENA ANTIGUA. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.caribarena.com/antigua/technology/latest-tech/101333-cbu-president-says-embrace-social-media.html. [Accessed 16 August 2012].
  4. ^


















    Official Website for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. 2012. Official Website for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.antigua.gov.ag/article_details.php?id=2040&category=38. [Accessed 15 August 2012].