Freedom of the Press - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (2007)

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 4 (of 30)
Political Environment: 7 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 6 (of 30)
Total Score: 17 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

The constitution guarantees a free press, and publications openly criticize government policies. In January 2006, Minister of Information Selmon Walter announced that the government had started examining broadcast policies from across the region and would be consulting with "knowledgeable" persons to formulate a new local broadcasting policy in an effort to raise the quality of programming. Walter told members of the Parliament that the content of talk radio programs had made St. Vincent and the Grenadines the "laughingstock of the Caribbean." In a particularly serious incident, Glenn Jackson, press secretary of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and a former head of the local media association, was found shot dead on March 8. A man was later arrested and charged with Jackson's murder, but no motive was revealed. Jackson had ended his career as a journalist in 2001 when he was appointed the prime minister's press secretary; however, he continued to make regular appearances as host of the pro-government Shake-Up interactive radio program on the WE FM 99.9 station. The main newspapers – the daily Herald and weeklies Searchlight and the Vincentian – are all privately owned. The state-run St. Vincent and the Grenadines Broadcasting Corporation operates SVG Television and the Hitz FM music radio station. NBC is a partly government-funded national FM radio service, while there are numerous other private outlets. There are no government restrictions on the internet, but it is not a significant source of information, with only about 8 percent of the population using the medium in 2006.

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