PM blasts Observer for blaming ABLP for its failure

Photo caption: Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Hon. Gaston Browne

The Antigua and Barbuda government has dismissed as “absolutely amazing” a claim by a local newspaper that Prime Minister Gaston Browne is at the forefront of efforts to destabilise its operations.

In a weekend editorial, the Observer newspaper, commenting on the decision by various United States newspapers to join in a coordinated and united editorial response to the frequent attacks on the free press by President Donald Trump, said the situation is not so different in Antigua and Barbuda.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne

“Here at home, our media house, the OBSERVER, is under constant attack from politicians and their political minions.  The prime minister himself leads the charge with unfounded and untrue statements about “fake news” and has labeled us as a “threat” to Antigua and Barbuda.  He mimics the Donald Trump anti-media playbook with uncanny accuracy and he leverages his popularity with his base to damage our companies in any way that he can,” the Observer said in the editorial.

“This is not a casual observation or us being defensive, the evidence is plain for all to see – save for those who are politically blinded.  Like the Wall Street Journal, we have been labelled as “failing” and “irrelevant,” yet we are the focus of attention.  And like the romance between Fox News and President Trump, PM Browne’s praises only go to those who shower praise on him and his administration.  “Disagreement and criticism are no longer allowed and discussions become a one-way affair littered with personal attacks.  Sounds familiar?  There is something very wrong with this trend towards bullying the media as a way of controlling the news.  It is indeed a dirty war,” the OBSERVER said in the editorial.

But in a statement, Prime Minister Browne said it is “absolutely amazing that the Observer is seeking to blame the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) for its difficulties”.

He said the ruling party administration has been instrumental in the removal of criminal libel laws here and that there have been more litigations against the OBSERVER by ministers of the former administration than under the present regime.

Prime Minister Browne said that his administration has provided the “lion’s share of government business” to the OBSERVER, estimated at over EC$500,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) annually.

He said the government also wrote off half a million dollars “of an outstanding bill of EC$2,000,000 and gave them terms to pay the balance.

He said even after defaulting on the agreement, the government “did not close them down”.

Browne said as leader of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) he has noticed that the OBSERVER radio station had moved from its semi-independent and semi-objective position becoming “ rabidly political, stale and offensive to many

He said the radio station had several opposition candidates and politicians berate the government “with h lies and innuendos on a daily basis” saying “this brought Observer and their political allies directly in the political realm and fair game for appropriate responses.

“If Observer’s rabid political reporting was factual they would have enjoyed the sympathy of the masses and render our responses ineffective. Our responses were to enlighten the people with the truth about the performance of good accountable governance.

“If there was any evil intent, evidently, It would have been with OMG and their vicious attempts to precipitate ABLP’s governance of our country.  Clearly, their fake news did not resonate with the people and the ABLP was triumphant in the last general elections with a stronger mandate.  The people spoke definitively and gave us an overwhelming mandate that we shall honour and never abuse. “

Earlier this month, the OBSERVER announced that it had accepted the realities of the changing media landscape and was shifting to a digital newspaper, while also re-locating from its present premises, informing readers that the “spontaneous change in our tenancy status has caused us to advance the timing of our all-digital transition”.

“They want us out, so we shall comply. A few months here or there makes little difference to the impact of this blow.  The damage is already done,” the OBSERVER said in another editorial.

But Browne said the media group’s “ blame game is unjustifiable” adding if the OBSERVER “is dependent on the government ’s financial support to ensure viability, then how does that make the company independent?

“I imagine the readers could discern the contradictions and irrationalities in their arguments,” Browne said, adding that his administration “has no interest to see the demise of OBSERVER MEDIA GROUP (OMG) or any media organization.

“We believe that there is space for a truly independent media entity that will report truthfully and hold the government accountable.  Perhaps a realigned OMG May fill that space failing which, a new media entity will fill the vacuum.

“My government will continue to patronize OMG and is prepared to assist in any way possible to ensure its viability as a truly Independent media organization that will hold my government accountable,” Browne said.

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  1. Observer is fake news. I could never spend a $ of my money buying their newspaper or a minute of my time listening to their programming.

    They so bias and full of hatred that I have read press releases on Antigua Newsroom etc and then someone might send me a copy of an article on Observer and they changed it to suit their purpose or removed the name of a mentioned person they seem to hate but you see we noticed because we saw the same report here without the edits.

    Thank goodness for Antigua Newsroom whose only purpose, so far, is to report the news as it is without bias or opinion.

    Mr PM, don’t you dare use tax payers money on this fake news arena.

  2. Observer needs to ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY for its financial decisions and the family squabbles which led to its current state.

  3. You should charge Gaston for an advertisement for printing this drivel. Serpent scares Gaston because he tells it like it is.

  4. All the way to the PRIVY COUNCIL and this is how his family chooses to “manage” Winston’s legacy?? What a crying shame. Observer’s glory days are long gone. SOME family members allowed greed and bad-mind to overtake them and cloud their judgement. RIP Winston Derrick.

  5. Well if u believe that hmmmmmmmm u probably crazy so u would listen to point fm or alp ministers,just say you a red koolaid drinker….observer is independent so u probably confused with one program that they have the snake pit and thank god for this show if not for this antigua would have been gone along time ago ….it is still going but just going at a slower rate …….@hmmmmmm u probably one of the alp supporters that they give wiskey and a party to sing

    • If OMG independent then cock have teeth. OMG bought their own demise. Gaston has been more the generous with them. Image they owe APUA over two million dollars and still them on air. Yet the small man who owe less that one hundred dollars light get cut. Gaston treat OMG better than even ZDK who has always been faithful to the ABLP.

      • Do not forget ZDK owed APUA about $50K and the UPP did all they can to shut them down. Were is not for the courts intervention ZDK would have been closed down

  6. The word is doc-is-ment not no doc-cues-ment. Where the hell you get that twang from? Probably spend too much time in Qatar and Dubai begging money!

    • All that bad English you can only learn from a person that has little to no education and calls himself a serpent.

  7. Y blame alp they should blame 2 the other candidates have no say that is y u hand pick the people u have on your ticket wife etc,your son is next mark this date down ….you gaston Browne is a loser and failure and i say so

  8. In this information age there is no such thing as a media that is not free. No one can control the internet. Only if it is state sponsored. Like some countries do not allow Facebook or google unrestricted access. It is because of this the Russians were able to influence the US 2016 election and other European elections. The users of e-media are being bombarded with information of which lots is difficult to separate facts from fiction. Donald Trump has been able to skillfully use this to get a large group of the population confused. We have seen live police shootings of black men on the internet. We have seen bombings and wars on the internet. There is no such thing as an oppressed media in the free world. The media just has to fight the fight against fake news. And they have to remain relevant to their customers. OMG is one that is becoming irrelevant day by day as their reporting always seen to be on sided and always politically tainted against the governing party. It is one thing to be critical, but it’s another to continue down the same road time and time again and year in and out. People lose interest in what it is you have to say after a while. You become predictable. If I want to listen to critics of Trump I listen to MSNBC or CNN. If I want to listen to supporters of Trump I listen to Fox News. When I visit my friends in the US they stop listening to the news media. They only follow sport or Soap Operas or movies. It has become all too much for them to listen to. Too much fake news. It is up to the media to take the fight to the fake news. Which means really going into investigative journalism and presenting the people with irrefutable facts.

  9. Observer has lost all credibility and respect of being a media house of any repute. What this so called editor was is nothing less than Yellow Journalism. They even contradict their earlier press releases and statements. When the CEO came to the public some months ago to explain that the company was loosing money because advertisements were low. They made a case to the public to safe the company and buy stock. They got stopped by the Central Bank who told them it was not the right way to go about offering shares to the public. Then they decided they would cut down on the printing of the news paper and the evening shows were most of the time a repeat of the daytime shows. Now suddenly they blame the government for all their misery. They want to compel the receivers to reveal to them who the buyer is of the property. Knowing very well that the receivers have no such obligation to do such. Same what as they were trying to get the CIU to disclose to them confidential information on the due diligence process. It is sad when a media house get so low in there reporting. Rather than to stay above the fray they have chosen to go with name calling and finger pointing. I cannot see why it is they chose to go this route because they should know very well that the PM would respond and call them out and put all their business out in the air. Can you imagine that the government is doing over $500k business annually with the OMG. None other media house get that much of a business with them. And apart from that they got a $500K write off on their electricity bill. A bill they billed up over the years under the UPP. There friendly government. No wonder they hate the ABLP government that much. But I have given them the analysis long time ago. No one can do any normal business in any of the Stanford Properties. They were build as energy suckers. And Stanford was the only one that could maintain them. Because he did not run those businesses for profit. The only business that was run for profit was the Offshore Bank SIBL. All others were Cost Centers. Can you imaging the amount of electricity OMG must have consumed in the short years they are in there. Therefore this situation as I have told them is a blessing in disguise. It could not have come at a better time. They now can restructure their operation and layoff the staff without getting into any industrial problems. And the e-paper is the best way to go. Less overhead and still more advertising revenues. Revenues you can easily hide from IRD. They don’t even have to operate from out of Antigua. The Internet has no boundaries. I had suggested caribarena to do that also, but they lost the interest in our Island

    • A long winded drivel addressing everything other than the topic as usual. Is it about finances, or about the pm personal attacks and two tongue tendencies? Seems like the simple topic has brought out your laureate skills to the fore not forgetting your numerous defensive yet unbiased rebuttal, lol! As someone posits if you were any of these fowl have teeth. Lol

      • Do you have anything to contribute or only personal attacks. No problem. Glad you read my comments at least. But as usual you did not even get what it is I was saying.

  10. Good points. I have wondered how energy efficient these Stanford buildings are. It has to be expensive to air condition them and energy in A&B is expensive. The building is attractive from the outside no question but so what. Never get emotionally involved with real estate. Whether it is an investment or shelter you need to keep your objective in mind. Too bad they named it after Fergie.
    So now we are all left to wonder what is going on, no snakepit, no free paper and no statement from Observer. VOP is a joke with Mr Quinn and Nikki. Movement radio just wanders from topic to topic with no structure or discipline. Clearly Serpent is discouraged with the situation. So what is next with Observer? Whatever it is please get on with it.

  11. I don’t think that the radio programs will be effected in their new operation. It is only the printery and the newspaper.

  12. From The Sideline tenman 3 hours ago
    The PM said he wrote a blog to their claim that the ABLP is to blame for their misery. But up to this day, they have not published the blog from the PM. That is the fairness they are talking about. They can attack and say what they want about the PM, but when he respond to them, they refuse to publish it. And we call that FREE SPEECH?

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