Omatie Lyder__use

One Caribbean Media (OCM) will continue to be committed to accurate, fearless and independent journalism that will never be compromised, according to chief executive officer Dawn Thomas.

In a statement yesterday following a scathing attack on the media by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at the post-Cabinet news conference, Thomas said:

“The OCM Group is the holding company for several print and electronic media companies including the Trinidad Express and CCN TV6. Additionally, since 2012 the Group has made sound investments in diverse businesses both in Trinidad and regionally.

“I have taken note of the PM’s statements at a press conference earlier today and in particular, the statement that ‘We do not have any independent media houses in Trinidad and Tobago’.

“In response, I wish to assure the public who we diligently serve that all of our media entities have and will continue to be committed to accurate, fearless and independent journalism that will never be compromised. It is my view that the PM’s statement is most unfortunate and does not accurately reflect the state of the free press that is cherished in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Express Editor-in-Chief Omatie Lyder also commented on the PM’s attack, saying:

“I confess we at the Express do have an agenda but contrary to what the Prime Minister said, that agenda is to pursue truth and transparency. OCM and its business interests have absolutely no bearing on the journalism we practice and I assure all our loyal readers we will always be fearless and independent.”

MATT: PM’s statement unsurprising

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) also hit back at Rowley, stating that journalists will not be censored and will continue to hold public officials to account.

MATT president Dr Sheila Rampersad made the statement yesterday following criticism from Rowley on the media’s coverage of the visit of Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez in March.

Rowley took aim particularly at two media houses, which he said had financial interests to protect and are not independent.

Without calling names, he said one media house is owned by a business conglomerate (Guardian Media Ltd is owned by conglomerate ANSA McAL) and the Government has taken decisions not in favour of their business interests. He said the other (he could only have been referring to OCM), does business with the State which is not being facilitated at this time. He claimed the Government was “making enemies” in the media.

In a response yesterday, Rampersad said Rowley’s statements were unsurprising in an election year.

“This is, sadly, not an unusual performance from a prime minister in the final year of an administration,” she said.

“Journalists and media houses walk this road every election cycle when proclamations of support for the institution of a free press are belied by the behaviour of senior political office holders. On this occasion, the news media has been asking questions about a visit by a Venezuelan VP.”

Rampersad said journalists will persist in their questioning on behalf of the public, on this and other matters, no matter how inconvenient.

“That is our job and our role in a democracy that we will not abandon. We will not be censored or forced into self-censorship. Journalists will continue to hold power to account and to pursue transparency on behalf of the public.”

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