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Country Outline

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Montserrat is a country in the Caribbean, an island located in the Caribbean Sea. It is a British overseas territory, measuring approximately 16 kilometres long and 11 kilometres wide, covering 102 square kilometres. The island known as the 'Emerald Isle' of the Caribbean, lies southeast of Puerto Rico with a population of 5,140 (July 2011 est.). Making up fourteen per cent of the world's total population. This isle is roughly 0.6 times the size of Washington DC.

Montserrat is a volcanic island consisting of mostly mountainous terrain and coastal lowland with a tropical climate and volcTsuCaribMontserratMap.jpglittle daily or seasonal variation in temperature. Before 1995, the island was known for its lush, green, mountainous and unspoiled land and populated with approximately 11,500 people. However it occupies an extremely geological unstable region of the earth's crust, making it prone to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Having constant adversities, eventually the capital city, Plymouth was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1997, demolishing the entire city and cutting more than half of the total population . Not long after, the southern region of Montserrat was declared an exclusion zone. The government moved to Brades (however a formal declaration has yet to be made for a new capital city). And due to such, the country is still undergoing development and striving to achieve a national identity.

Types of Media


Montserrat has various print and broadcast media that is used to convey information and particularly government announcements to the community of the island regarding issues such as the development and economy of the island, as well as the status of volcanoes in Montserrat. In 2008, 3,000 mobile phones were in use and in 2009 and 2,700 land-line telephones were in use. The telephone and Internet lines were installed in 1995 and are linked by ECFS (East Caribbean Fibre System).
The following are the main types of media available in Montserrat.

Newspaper

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The Montserrat Reporter Online is a weekly newspaper that releases local and national news of Montserrat every Friday through the World Wide
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Web. (The Montserrat Report Online, accessed 16/8/11) As it is a form of online journalism, the Montserrat Reporter allows for a greater extent of interaction with its audience and vocalising of opinions of issues posted on their website. This form of media, though perhaps only accessible to a hand-full of Montserratians, is a starting point of the development of diversity of the flow of information.

Internet Sites


In Montserrat, the internet is widely accessible with 17 internet service providers in total and is one of the mainly used forms of media communication on the island (Montserrat 411 News, accessed 16/8/11). Some internet sites that portrays journalistic work include:
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MNIalive.com is "an online global marketing, networking & information (MNI) publication aimed at connecting Caribbean people around the world, whilst also providing an information resource that feeds back into the Caribbean region." (mnialive.com, accessed 15/8/11). It is a non-government organisation that provides a communication service online for the Caribbean peoples, helping to stay connected with news and affairs outside the region. MNIalive.com was found by Jeevan Robinson - also acting as its CEO and Editor-in-chief, of whose aspirations is to share and promote the spirit of the Caribbean world wide (mnialive.com, accessed 16/8/11), and bring about economic development through its rich culture.

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TrulyCaribbean.net is an internet site developed in Montserrat aimed at promoting Montserrat's culture and the Caribbean lifestyle (searchmontserrat.com, accessed 16/8/11). It's founder, Nerissa Golden was inspired to promote and broadcast the talents and show cases of Montserrat around the globe. Hence, this website is though non-commercial, has a place in media broadcasting as an initiative by Montserratians to advertise its potential services for an entertainment and ideal holiday destination. Columns written for entrepreneurial engagements, women in business and other regional news (trulycaribbean.net, accessed 16/8/11) are also broadcasted on the website to appeal to business trade and economic development opportunities for Montserrat and the Caribbean.

It must be noted, that though such internet sites are not particularly regulated by the government, its editors/owners can exercise the right to restrict the flow of information. For example, depending on the aims of the websites- whether it be to profit commercially or simply a promotion of Montserrat culture - the information published will hint a biased perception of issues that goes against the "subjectivity" purposes of journalism in the media.

A particular emerging blog, Montserrat 411 News, that was found by Karen Allen offers a differing view point on media releases within Montserrat, and discusses sensitive issues including racism within Montserrat that would often be hidden within the media available in Montserrat (Montserrat 411 News, accessed 16/8/11)

Television Broadcast

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The Peoples Television (PTV) is a free broadcasting television service to the people of Montserrat - covering the news, documentaries, commercials and entertainment (People's Television Website, accessed 16/8/11). Though the owner of PTV is unpublished, it is convinced as one of the channels available in Montserrat that has been privatised (Montserrat 411 News, accessed 16/8/11)
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The Carribbean Cable Communications is one of Montserrat's major cable TV that offers the television broadcasts of news, sports and entertainment worldwide (Caribbean Cable Communications, accessed 16/8/11). The provision of international channels such as CNN and Fox allows for Montserratians to be more aware of global issues that is coming from sources that are predominantly more accurate and timely.

Radio

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The available radio station in Montserrat is ZJB Radio found by Frank Delisle. It is a radio station that broadcasts the daily news, government press releases, religious (Gospel) program, music and volcano status updates aimed to inform the small community of Montserrat. Currently, ZJB Radio is monitored by the Government Information Unit (GIU, accessed 16/8/11).
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Interview Conducted by ZJB Radio with Minister of Housing, Easton Farrell-Taylor on 11th August 2011


As a country that is growing economically and still currently dependent to some extent on Britain's assistance for recovery from volcanic activity (Carribean press release, accessed 16/8/11), media within Montserrat is very limited in its extent of gaining a broad and vast array of sources of information and delivering it effectively to its peoples. It is a particular concern that because most broadcasts are controlled by the government, there is potential for some form of media restrictions within Montserrat, and political biases that can be reflected in the media. Thus, because media in Montserrat is concentrated to in the hands of only a few owners, it can be said that to an extent, its media is not highly pluralistic. However, since the emergence of the internet, Montserrat reporters have been able to more freely convey information that is non restricted in its flow and reach, allowing for greater diversity in the perceptions broadcasted in media. Yet because tourism of Montserrat is a vital source of income for the island, its media can be subject to some bias, especially in terms of journals and articles that revolve around the issues of the culture and environment of Montserrat.

Ownership of Media


Both the print (Montserrat Reporter) and broadcast media are mostly publicly owned services managed by the government. This is because Montserrat is still developing as a small territory to encompass the various available technologies imported.

GIU (Government Information Unit)


A division of the Government of Montserrat - Government Information Unit (GIU) manages the flow of information to the public. The aim of the GIU is to manage "open communication links that promotes the effective dissemination of information and...include an appropriate level of public consultation." (GIU, accessed 15/8/11 )
The GIU partners with various parties in Montserrat to channel information to the public, including private sector groups, various NGO's and other public sector and government departments. The GIU is constantly developing as association of the government of Montserrat to provide "effective timely delivery of communication." (GIU, accessed 15/8/11)
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Chief Minister of Montserrat the Hon. Reuben T.


The GIU is managed by their Chief Minister of Ministry of Communications and Works, the Hon. Reuben T. Meade, whom is responsible for the management of information services within Montserrat, and the release of various regional and political affairs of the nation to the public.

ZJB Radio


The ZJB radio station is managed by the GIU with its goals being "to provide a professional radio service to the public of Montserrat by increasing the quantity and quality of the information and delivering the information in a more interactive way to improve the public’s knowledge of government’s policies and programmes" (OCM, accessed 15/8/11) and "to establish and maintain mutual understanding between the Government and the public through the management of open two-way communication links that promotes the effective dissemination of information that also includes an appropriate level of public consultation." (OCM, accessed 15/8/11)
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Montserrat is currently a member of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union. It is a non-government organisation based in Barbados to "stimulate the flow of broadcast material among the radio and television systems in the Caribbean region." (Caribbean Broadcasting Union, accessed 15/8/11)

ECFS (East Caribbean Fibre System)


ECFS is owned by three companies—Cable & Wireless, France Telecom (Orange), and AT—and links 14 eastern Caribbean islands as follows:
1. Tortola, British Virgin Islands
2. Anguilla
3. St. Martin
4. St. Kitts & Nevis
5. Antigua
6. Montserrat
7. Guadeloupe
8. Dominica
9. Martnique
10. St. Lucia
11. Barbados
12. St. Vincet
13. Grenada
14. Trinidad.

Cable & Wireless is a massive telecommunications group that is owned by John Barton, Chairman and Chairman of Nomination Committee, and John Pluthero, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director.

The France Telecom Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer is Stephane Richard; he was elected by the members of Orange group, France Telecom’s “key brand,” shareholders. Orange is a large telecommunications operator company, having more than 217 million customers.
AT&T is the largest and fastest mobile broadband network based in the United States. Randall L. Stephenson is the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of AT&T.
As Montserrat's media is organised through its government, it is possible to say that the ties between politics and media in Montserrat is quite strong, and could to a great extent, lead to certain biases and surpression of information to the public. However, as mentioned above, because the community within Montserrat is not highly antagonised with the activities and trends of politics, such regulation issues is not much of a concern for the public, and the currently small, developing media industry of Montserrat.


Montserrat belongs to the Caribbean region which is characterized by a complete mix of traditional and contemporary media. Just as free press is largely successful in Europe, North America , Australia, Montserrat, as a British dependency, has the same press freedoms. There is currently no daily newspaper. Just before the volcanic crisis took place, the island had a number of weekly newspapers and yet at present , only ‘The Montserrat reporter’ remains. ‘The Montserrat reporter was founded in 1985, and it began as an instrument of the national development party ,yet is considered to be the separate entity from politics. It is distributed every Friday and its circulation is approximately 750. It is available online.

Three radio stations have taken place on this island, one AM and Two FM which serves 7000 radios. As well, a single television station broadcasts to 3000 televisions and 17 internet services providers are on the island providing network services.
Despite the globalisation, the print and radio media has been developed for the local communities and whole island societies. The traditional media such as the newspaper is still being published with some of the oldest newspapers in the hemisphere – Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner since 1834. For the electronic media , the region has experienced direct broadcasting by satellite (DBS) when domestic satellite were used commercially in the United States.

The media ownership and control within the region have also followed the traditional forms of ownership and control of the former colonizers. Within the CARICOM, the British tradition and commitment to public service broadcasting has presented the point of departure for the development of radio and television broadcasting. In Montserrat , the radio station is owned by the government and when the television broadcasting is more powerful and manipulative than any other media, government owns television services.

In spite the narrow ownership of national broadcast services, the nearby islanders are able to access radio services of the neighbouring islands due to the proximity. Due to this, multiplicity of radio services is available to the majority of Carribbean citizens since the advent of radio broadcasting on a commercial scale. This has rendered Jamaican and Cuban radio listeners to access broadcasts coming from Dominican republic as well as from Miami whereas the English speaking people in Southern Carribbean were able to tune in the broadcasts from Colombia, Martinique as well as Aruba and each other.

The radio station in Montserrat is a public radio broadcaster which transmits on 1 station and has a repeater transmission to a second station. Repeater transmissions from the GEM radio network of Trinidad and Tobago provide another 2 radio stations and cable and satellite TV can be obtained.
Currently the electronic media environment is more diverse with the advent and production of newer and cheaper technologies such as solar power and fibre-optics. The wave of liberalisation and privatisation and deregulation has led to the advent of many new market driven broadcast services. As well, new technologies have made government monopolistic practices outdated, as a form of control of broadcast media.

Regulation of Media


Although Montserrat is a small British overseas Territory with a population of merely 1500, it is very dependent upon its own internal self-government rather than relying too much on the British government. However, the constant threat that the volcano eruption imposes is more than the country can handle on its own thus financial as well as economical aid is needed from time to time. As a consequence of this, the Montserrat government has enforced regulations regarding the safety procedure that are voiced into Radio Montserrat at 88.3 or 95.5 FM along with technologically-advanced sirens spread and distributed throughout the entire island. These strategically planned mechanisms are not only to warn about the dangers of the volcano approaching but also to inform the community of any forms of emergency such as other natural disasters and the instructions to follow.

Another regulation on media is the Securities (Licences and Fees) Regulation 2001 where a licensee or authorised person shall forward a copy of every securities advertisement along with the advertisement filing fee to the Commissioner 14 days prior to the first use date. These securities advertisements include; publication, display of notices, signs, labels, pictures, cinematographic films, sound broadcasting, television, by computer output and etc. However if the Commissioner is not satisfied with the advertisement in accordance with the regulations, the Commission shall require the licensee or the authorised person to make amendments before the date of first use. This is to prevent misleading and advertisements. Also it shall not contain any statement, promise or forecast unless the person is going to take all responsibility to ensure each statement is not misinterpret from the form or context it appears in. The identification of the advertiser, the date first issued as well as an approval from the registered principal is essential for each advertisement in order to prevent further misunderstanding.

Recently on the 11th of August the Executive Council has agreed upon blocking any access to social networks and free email sites on most of the Government employees of Montserrat in order to increase productivity and offer a more stable web for users. It was investigated that personnel using social media as well as downloading were causing the internet system to slow down significantly and this has greatly impacted upon the mission critical services offered online such as the Customs ASYCUDA software. Deputy Governor, Mrs Sarita Francis told senior civil servants that in order for her to mange who is permitted to access specific websites, a information technology (IT) usage policy needs to be developed.

References


Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, accessed 16 August 2011, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montserrat>

Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth,_Montserrat>

CIA The World Factbook, accessed 16 August 2011, <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mh.html>

Culture of Montserrat, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.everyculture.com/Ma-Ni/Montserrat.html>

Abadia de Montserrat, accessed 17 August 2011, <http://www.abadiamontserrat.net/%28S%280qdtzmz2d0lpwj55nefmpi45%29%29/Defaultangles.aspx>

Montserrat Island Culture, accessed 16 August 2011 <http://www.travel2thecaribbean.com/montserratislandvacation.html>

Caribbean Broadcasting Union, accessed 15 August 2011, <http://caribunion.com/>

Caribbean Cable Communications, accessed 16 August 2011, <http://caribcable.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=129&Itemid=298>

Caribbean Press Releases, accessed 16 August 2011 <http://www.caribbeanpressreleases.com/articles/807/1/Montserrat-Tourism-Board-officials-sell-Montserrat-at-World-Travel-Market/Page1.html>

Government Information Unit, accessed 15 August 2011, <http://www.giu.gov.ms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=60&Itemid=72>

Office of the Chief Minister, accessed 15 August 2011, <http://ocm.gov.ms/>

MNI alive, accessed 15 August 2011, <http://www.mnialive.com/>

Montserrat 411 News, accessed 15 August 2011, <http://www.yourvirtualsolutions.net/montserrat411news/>

Peoples Television, accessed 15 August 2011, <http://www.ptvmontserrat.com/index.html>

Truly Caribbean, accessed 16 August 2011, <http://www.trulycaribbean.net/>

Topix, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.intercultures.ca/cil-cai/media-medias-eng.asp?iso=ms>

HM Govern's Office, accessed 19th August 2011, <http://ukinmontserrat.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/our-role/>

Government of Montserrat, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.gov.ms/?p=5472>

Montserrat Telecommunications Profile, 2011, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.indexmundi.com/montserrat/telecommunications_profile.html>

ECFS (Cable System), accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.enotes.com/topic/ECFS_%28cable_system%29>

France Telecom Group, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.orange.com/en_EN/group/>

AT&T, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.att.com/#fbid=640VHnnLdTq>

Cable & Wireless, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.cw.com/>

Country Profile, accessed 19 August 2011,accessed 19 August 2011,< http://www.worldinformation.com >

Media, Media Courier , accessed 19 August 2011 , <http://www.mediacourier.net >

Montserrat, CIA World Fact Book (2001), accessed 19 August 2011, < http://www.cia.gov >

The Montserrat Reporter, accessed 19 August 2011, <http://www.montserratreporter.org/ .>