Observer editor asks Cabinet to reconsider boycott


POINT XPRESS — The managing editor of Observer Media Group (OMG) has appealed directly to Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, to convince the ABLP administration to revisit its decision to boycott the media house and its reporters.

The Cabinet’s boycott of Observer Radio is in response to OMG’s Managing Director, Algernon ‘Serpent’ Watts’ decision to end Hurst’s appearance on their prime time show on Monday mornings.

Watts said he would ban Ambassador Hurst from the radio station, a statement that attracted the ire of Prime Minister and leader of the ABLP Gaston Browne. Last Saturday, Browne said “Serpent” would not dictate who speaks on behalf of the government or ABLP and continued that as a senior government official who has vast knowledge on a range of issues, Ambassador Hurst is uniquely qualified for the task of spokesman.

Earlier this week, ABLP Chairman E. P. Chet Greene condemned Watts’ position calling it a “serious violation of media freedom”and insisted the move constituted a ban on the chief of staff. Greene continued that instead of banning Ambassador Hurst, Observer’s management ought to use the government’s spokesman’s appearances to challenge any of the “lies” he has been accused of promulgating.

The Observer manager, who is a UPP candidate in the upcoming general elections, appeared to back-pedal on the issue following widespread media coverage on the issue and heavy criticism from the public.

Watts claimed that Ambassador Hurst was not banned from appearing on Observer Radio and was “free to call in and make contributions like any other resident”.

However, he would be barred from appearing during the station’s Monday morning prime time programme. The Cabinet’s latest move boycotting OMG is the strongest yet in response to last weekend’s development.

Managing Editor of OMG, Gemma Handy, said their newsroom has been hit hard by the news of the boycott and she wants the Cabinet to exclude them from the fallout of the war of words between the government and Serpent. “Media is a cornerstone of democracy. I know I don’t need to tell you that, but this stance does the entire nation a disservice,” Handy asserted.

“I’m asking very politely and respectfully for the ABLP administration to please not extend this stance to our news reporters, who appear from where I am sitting at least, to be unwitting pawns, caught in a political game of chess which has nothing to do with them.”

During Thursday morning’s Post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Handy argued that she had no control of what transpired, and that the newsroom should not be made to pay. She stated while the ABLP administration has viewed Watts’ decision as censorship, their reaction can also be viewed in the same light.

“Regarding your removal from that show, that was a decision outside my remit, not one I would have made personally. But it’s very important to note that our newsroom operates separately to the hosted shows, and fundamentally, our reporters are decent, honourable, hard working young people, doing their best to report the news in a fair and balanced manner. The politics frankly is irrelevant to them.

“I disagree with censorship on principle, but denying our reporters the ability to deliver balanced news is also censorship, and this is very important. It stymies the professional development of young, aspiring, predominantly Antiguans, trying to do a decent job in a country where the media industry is still very much in its infancy.

“It denies ABLP members the opportunity to comment and give balance on matters of importance, not to mention critical information that only they are privy to. Most important of all, it robs the Antiguan and Barbudan public of their right to fair and balanced journalism,” the managing editor said.

In retort, while acknowledging Handy’s position, Ambassador Hurst told her those concerns were better directed at her boss.

“We didn’t start this! We know when democracy is threatened. Here is someone who is seeking to become a part of government, who is making decisions that are harmful to our democracy, and we clearly want that message conveyed that even though the Observer Media Group is a private enterprise operation, it still must interact with government in order to make it a success, and we believe that any attempt on its part to dictate to the government who should or should not speak on its behalf, is not a position that the government can accept as being fully democratic,” Ambassador Hurst asserted.

He restated the government’s position and pledged they will fight the decision and emerge victorious. The chief of staff said the relationship that once existed between government and OMG can be restored only if Watts overturns his decision.

“Let him be the first to reverse his stand, and let Darren Matthew-Ward do what Darren Matthew-Ward does best. He should not be interfering in the programming, we agree. I’m afraid that collateral damage to the young reporters will be part of the end result, something that we abhor.”

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  1. I am no ALP reporter but Serpent is wrong on this one. Banning Hurst simply because you do not like his points of view is partisan and childish. If you do not like his points of view then challenge them as Darren does on his show. As long as Hurst does not defame anyone, his point of view should not be banned simply because it does not align with Serpent’s point of view. If Serpent thinks Max is spreading lies and falsehoods then call him out on them and prove that they are lies. A ban is somewhat dictatorial and shows an unwillingness to be open to and tolerate other points of view.

    • @Not So Common – I agree with what you said.
      The Observer Media Group has now offered ABLP administration, through Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst an olive branch. The ball is now in ABLP’s court.

      Let’s wait and see if the depth of this administration stupidity is as deep as I believe it to be.

  2. Action breathes reaction! Why the editor didn’t go to her boss and ask him to rethink his decision? Now she is coming using all kind of antics to get the government to rethink? of course it is a private entity and can make whatever decisions they want, however there are collateral damage which management didn’t foresee or too dumb and egocentric to calculate. Anyway, hopefully the politicians will revisit their stance and make amends.

  3. This situation is becoming quite strange to me since I do not believe that it is in the Managing Editor’s place to ask Cabinet to revisit its decision.


      Frequently. it is the ‘…MESSENGER’ that shall ‘DELIVER’ the ‘…MESSAGE.’

      And frequently, it is the ‘…MESSENGER’ that shall be shot.

      After the ‘…MESSAGE’ is ‘…DELIVERED,’ then the ‘…SENDER’ shall go forth.


    • This is only shows that SERPENT does not have Management skills .
      Charles Tabor , you must know when to call out Serpent . Serpent is slowly killing OBSERVER. More to.come !!!

  4. What happen she and her dam news team doesn’t want to up off their button and go esearch or investigate news? They just want to continue to use soundbites and regurgitate everything Gaston and his Cabol says at nauseum?
    Perhaps she is afraid that this time they will not renew her work permit. If she doesn’t like the management decision then leave, resign nothing stopping her

    Now I know why observer news items always seem to sound like the government propaganda with no balance reporting.

  5. While Max Hurst is advocating for an improved media landscape with Observer being more democratic, how about encouraging Melford Nicholas to open access at ABS so that all political parties can feel welcome in expressing their views? This is such an ironic situation, almost biblical. The ABLP has never been known as advocates of free speech.
    The Observer Media Group had to go all the way to the Privy Council and the “talk as you like” culture emerged. Now 30 years later, the same oppressive Labour Party, which still has members like Max, is trying to fight to get their voice on Observer, the Voice of the People. This is almost laughable!

    • You make an excellent point about open access at ABS. Maybe a new deal can be hammered out for EQUAL ACCESS between ABS and OBSERVER where both use the same set of rules.

    • Darren Matthew Ward is NOT the problem! ALGERNON “FARMing FOOL” WATTS is.

      Just because Peter and Arvel spoke the truth on Darren show, the cry baby snake 🐍 got mad. The fact remains that “Lovell is a SPENT FORCE”

      The moment the 🐍 decided to run for UPP, he lost all objective thinking.

  6. Isn’t that insubordination on Gemma’s part. If your boss makes a decision, is it in your place to undermine that decision? If you don’t like it you leave. You don’t undermine your boss!

    • No boss is always right, unless you live in a dictatorship where criticism of boss’s decisions will get you arrested, no matter how ridiculous those decisions are and how obvious it is to everyone

  7. One up side of the Govt’s boycott I guess is that Observer is now free to report on government policies in any way they choose and make their own interpretations of them. If the government doesn’t like the reporting, they have no way to correct it because they have painted themselves into a corner. Go ahead Observer, report the truth about the government’s policies and actions, see how quick they retract the boycott!

  8. Who cares a rat’s behind whether Max Hurst appears on Observer or not and why should he care to be on their radio station? He has Chet Greene radio station, pointe fm and ABS. Max Hurst has nothing to add to Observer. He only pushes propaganda and lies. Why does he want to be on Observer, nobody listening to the other stations. I for one thought Observer to be too generous with all those labour politicians and their operatives going on there and pushing their agendas. Even Chet Greene was on there pushing his radio station, a competitor of Observer.
    Max Hurst, you, Greene and Gaston, just go way.

  9. I don’t see what the fuss is about. The less we hear ABLP. The better!.If it is not illegal I vote in favor of the bann. I even vote in favor of ABLP b’cott. This is where less is best.

  10. MY VIEW a nice philosophical twist to this issue with your “less is best” comment. You know most people would think that more is always better. You might have a point.

    • This is only shows that SERPENT does not have Management skills .
      Charles Tabor , you must know when to call out Serpent . Serpent is slowly killing OBSERVER. More to.come !!!

  11. Gemma you pass your place.
    Are you an independent contractor who happens to work for Observer!
    No you are not.
    You work for Observer!
    If you don’t like the decision you leave.

    You are out of order!
    Please advise me-does Observer not pay your salary!
    Serpent is your boss!
    If your boss makes a decision, take it up with him.
    You don’t go against him.
    Serpent would be right to fire you!
    You are out of order

      • BEEF where does FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION arise in this issue. OBSERVER is a private radio station, if I have a particular view and they do not allow me to promulgate my view on their station then I find another station that would facilitate the promulgation of my view. More importantly, in the case of the Cabinet Notes presented by Max Hurst, no one can convince me that the Cabinet Notes should not rightly be carried on the national radio station ABS. If after being aired on ABS and other stations choose to carry it, that is absolutely fine.

          • BEEF you could only be responding to the topical issue of Max Hurst no longer being allowed on Observer to present his Cabinet Notes. If I am wrong please enlighten me.

      • Audley Dave Joseph:
        Tell that to ABS. ABS does not allow the UPP on the air. ABS is the national station.
        ABS should practice freedom of expression.
        Observer is a private radio station. It can do what it pleases.

  12. School children say, Gemma Handy was ‘called in’ when she PULLED A NEWSPAPER STORY about a certain U.P.P. candidate on or around the same time when instructions were given to ‘take down’ a facebook video on or around the time of the U.P.P. launch.

    If school children right, I guess Gemma is getting close to the point of saying ‘enough of the b**ls**t’.

    School children also said that Darren wrote to the ‘board’ late last week.

    If school children right again, I hope he is able to recover his ‘b**ls’.


    I believe SCHOOL CHILDREN are correct. Serpent lack Management skills according to Mr. Harrison. 90 % OF the People would like to see/ hear Max Hurst on Monday mornings. Max adds alot to Observer. Hope all will be back to normal soon. Let’s pray.

    • On the contrary, I hope it stays just as it is.

      It is better for the A.B.L.P. (in my opinion).



      ANDREW K
      LYNN B
      V GORMAN
      MR CORDE
      JOHN PQ
      LYNDA D



  14. NewsCo behaving like the lgbtq clan. They cry out for “rights” but as soon as you don’t say what they wan’t to hear, they attack you and try to silence you for your own “rights” and views.

    “Let There Be Light”

  15. Words of Wisdom from former Editor, Mickel Brann:

    “Immediately, a clear and concise statement from Serpent indicating he is an owner and programme host, but he will be REMOVED FROM PROGRAMMING AND NEWSROOM DECISIONS, and BE SEEN TO BE REMOVED from these programming decisions, should happen. And then he should let his word be his bond.

    “The Daily Observer itself needs an editorial statement and they need to RECOMMIT TO FAIR AND BALANCED NEWS PROCESS and they need to be seen to be doing that REGARDLESS OF WHERE THE OWNER SITS and what their editorial i.e. their opinion is,” Brann added.

    The snake cannot take the heat and nothing even start yet. He suddenly has a problem with Max Hurst now that he is running on the UPP ticket.

  16. “…so, having failed in their ongoing public BULLYING, INTIMIDATION and THREATS, Observer radio has decided to TRAMPLE ON FREE SPEECH and FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION…the HYPOCRISY is glaring and blinding!” Massiah continued, “it can now be officially confirmed that the Faithful Nationals, the Movement and Observer/NewsCo exist for one sole reason – to pursue their ill-fated mission to attempt to resuscitate a near comatose UPP…”

  17. Algernon Watts is hoping to become an MP and is not practicing democracy!!! Imagine what he would do if he were to be elected.

    He has become the very thing he falsely accuses others of being: a DICTATOR

    Gemma your job is in jeopardy.

    • And so it should be! She gave her boss the finger!

      Well, well well

      The same person pretending to be different people.
      She should go and work for POINTE FM.

      • You can guess all you want, you still wrong!

        Why should Gemma go work for Point FM? Because she stand up for the right thing? Because she talk out against CENSORSHIP?

  18. Gemma, go and work for POINTE FM
    Plenty free speech down there.
    Ask the man who pull a gun on a fellow member of staff
    Ask why Shelton had to leave under the cover of darkness
    What happen to the lady whose name starts with P- HOW long did she last.

    Gemma POINTE FM is calling you

    • “Truthseeker” you dont want any truth. You made accusations and cannot present any proof to substantiate you dishonest claims

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