I’ve written many posts already about the media and how they are being controlled or influenced these days everywhere around the world. My last post on this topic, which was very recent, discussed how we have to be more and more careful with where we get our information from. It’s one thing for the media to be owned and abused by people to forward their agenda, but it’s totally different, and in my opinion even worse, when the media allows itself to be told what to do, or simply ignore certain information, because they fear the consequences if they don’t. And I’m going to discuss a clear example of this below.
You may already know about the 9/11 event I organized back in November 2006 and which I reported about here. That event was a moderate success, and overall I’m satisfied with how things went. I’m still getting very good feedback from people, some of which didn’t even attend the event at that time, but know about the issues we discussed on that event and “are happy at least someone in Suriname is bringing it to our attention.” I’ve been planning to do follow ups on that event and one of the things I wanted to do was find a way to broadcast the movies which we screened on that event on TV so that we could reach even more people with the information. We had only a limited number of seats available for the first event and in addition there was a fee of about $40 per person, and some people complained that it was too expensive for them. So having the movies broadcasted seemed like a better thing to do next. The following is a list of the movies I wanted to broadcast (2 per week in the order as listed):
I found some sponsors who would be willing to help pay the broadcasting fees and so I went to talk to some local TV stations. One of them was RTV (Rasonic TV). They were at first willing to broadcast all 10 movies. We talked about the available dates and costs, and I went ahead and made a schedule of which movie would be broadcasted on which day and at what time. The ad which was going to be used to promote these movies was also made, containing the full broadcasting schedule of the movies. I presented this to RTV and they agreed with it. But later that same day, or the next day, I got called by RTV and they mentioned having spoken to the local US Embassy in Suriname, and told me that there were problems. It appeared the US Embassy didn’t like the fact that they were going to broadcast those movies, and RTV was being threatened with consequences.
So when I heard that, I immediately sent an email to Andy Utschig from the US Embassy in Suriname, basically asking if that was true and why they were doing this. I had met Andy Utschig, who is a Political/Economic Officer at the US Embassy, in December 2006 to discuss the 9/11 event I had organized the previous month, so that’s how I knew him (That meeting went very well by the way, and he seemed like a nice guy. On that meeting I also gave him 2 copies of the 10 movies which were screened on the 9/11 event).
Not very long after I sent my email to Utschig, he replied explaining to me that it was RTV who contacted him and that he had indeed spoken to them about broadcasting the movies. He first made clear that “they stood by free speech” and that “Suriname is a free country and they may broadcast whatever they like.” He then said that RTV would not have problems with the US Embassy if they would broadcast the movies. I was ofcourse very glad to read that. But then he went on to say that “the US Embassy would be disappointed if RTV broadcasted the movies,” because they considered them to be “onesided, erroneous and biased.”
To that, I replied the following:
The fact that you consider the videos to be one sided is your opinion and you are ofcourse entitled to that. Most of the video’s [sic] approach the issues based on the “official story”. They begin by first saying “the official story says this” and then go on to explain why there are problems with that version of the story, and then go on to discuss relevant facts. Even if you still say that they are one-sided, nothing stops you from also airing material with the official account. The goal is to have people see both sides of the story, as you said in your point. So let us have both of their [sic] aired. I’m doing my part, you do yours?
He also said that RTV wished to broadcast the movies based on commercial reasons, and that they “asked RTV to consider journalistic ethics before making their decision.” To this I replied:
Well the only way to broadcast things is for commercial reasons. I don’t think RTV or any other station would broadcast ANYthing if they didn’t make money from it somehow. If they would want to do it for free as sponsorship, I would ofcourse welcome that, but I have found some other companies instead who will sponsor the videos. In addition, these videos are being broadcasted also because of their educational value.
People already see the official story 24 hours a day everywhere. It is time that they also get a chance to look at alternative information from the other side. Both sides of the story have to get an equal chance. Then, people are free to make up their own minds.
You may also want to check this: http://blog.kareldonk.com/be-careful-with-where-you-get-your-information-from/
I did not get a reply back from him on this email at the time of writing this. But today RTV did tell me that they were not going to be able to broadcast the movies anymore. It appears the PR officer of the US Embassy, Cliff Djamin, called the owner/director of RTV all the way in India today, where he’s on a business trip, to talk about not broadcasting the movies. I’m not sure what was discussed, but based on that the decision was made to not broadcast the movies anymore.
From this whole experience we can note a few things. The first thing to take note of, is the fact that we need to buy commercial broadcasting time to get information to people which the media isn’t reporting on. In an ideal situation, I wouldn’t have to spend my time and resources trying to get this information out because the media would already have reported it. But even when you do try to buy commercial broadcasting time, they refuse to sell it to you because they fear the consequences. This is the same thing that happened to Jimmy Walter when he tried to buy space for an ad about 9/11 in the New York Times. They just refused to sell it to him.
The second thing to note is that even though the US Embassy was promoting free speech and the requirement to broadcast both sides of the story, they did not accept my offer to have both sides of the story broadcasted so that people could look at all the information and decide for themselves. Instead, they seemed to have went on with their Gestapo type activities to try and get RTV not to broadcast the movies at all. So take special note of this: For the US Embassy, not broadcasting the movies at all is better than broadcasting them along with their side of the story. The question that immediately comes to mind is: What do they want to hide from the public? Ofcourse, most of us already know the answer to that question. Also take even more special note of the fact that they are basically trying to censor this information, trying to not have it broadcasted and reach the public at all. Talk about journalistic ethics. What happened to showing people both sides of the story?
Another thing we can see is that people still allow themselves to be intimidated by the US Embassy in Suriname. Last year, I had a similar issue when “Residence Inn,” the hotel where I would first organize the 9/11 event, cancelled on me because “they did not want to hurt their relationship with the US Embassy in Suriname.” Why do these people allow themselves to be intimidated or to fear for consequences? Because they fear having something to lose. It seems that it’s all about protecting their interests, even at the cost of the greater good. If RTV has to basically agree with censorship to keep the US Embassy happy, they’re going to do it as they have demonstrated. And it seems this happens all the time. It’s one of the reasons the world is in such a mess today. People are being kept in the dark about many many things, and as a result make the wrong decisions, while those keeping them in the dark pretend to value journalistic ethics and free speech.
So right now, I’m going to do a little research project. I’m going to find out exactly how many TV stations in Suriname are going to refuse to broadcast these movies. That will give us a good indication of how free the media actually is in Suriname. At least, as far as the TV stations are concerned. I can’t wait to report on my findings.