AT A GLANCE
Official Name: Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Chief of State: President Bharrat Jagdeo
Next Election: 2011
Population: 762,000 (UN, 2009)
Independence: 1966 from the United Kingdom
Human Development Index: 114 of 182 countries(UN, 2009)
Global Gender Gap Index: 35 of 134 countries (World Economic Forum, 2009)
Gross National Income per capita: US$1,420 (World Bank, 2009)
Strengthening Media Governance in Guyana
Local Organization: Guyana Media Proprietors Association (GMPA),
Committee for the Development of a Media Code of Conduct for Guyana
Canadian Expert: Ian Alexander
Articles: Beyond Borders - Improving media governance in Guyana, appeared in Public Sector Management magazine in 2011
Good Media Governance: A Solid Foundation for Democratic Development by Ian Alexander, appeared in Public Sector Management magazine in 2009
Presentation: Media Governance and Democratic Development: A Case Study from Guyana by Ian Alexander
Ian Alexander, Canadian expert on media governance, is working closely with local partners in Guyana, a small Eastern Caribbean country on the mainland of South America, to improve governance in the media industry. The priorities of this initiative are to improve professional standards, self-regulation, and public accountability. This is being done through: designing and enacting legislation on broadcasting; creating an independent regulatory authority; opening up the licensing process; and enhancing industry cohesion.
Activities included two workshops in mid-2009, a major sector-wide conference last September, and a workshop in May 2010. Concrete results to date include the formation of the Media Proprietors’ Association and agreement by all media houses on an improved Media Code of Conduct for the next local and national election campaigns. Work continues on drafting an even more comprehensive code that would apply to all types of content, between as well as during elections. Training and development needs for media practitioners, and ways of meeting them, are being identified.
"Media freedom and media responsibility go hand in hand, and are essential to informed citizenship. This requires a stable, transparent, inclusive media governance regime. I feel privileged to be helping my Guyanese colleagues work towards that goal; I am also learning a tremendous amount from them.” Ian Alexander
Like-minded organizations elsewhere in the Caribbean are supporting these and related initiatives. Discussions are also in progress to launch public consultations to determine Guyanese citizens’ attitudes to, and expectations of, the print and broadcast media in their country. Key provisions for a proposed broadcasting bill have been brought forward, and there have also been renewed calls for Freedom of Information legislation. To date there has been no concrete action by the Government on these legislative matters.
Canada is taking the lead in facilitating closer co-operation among local representatives of the United Nations Development Programme, the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development, to maximize the effectiveness of donor efforts in the media sector. Cooperation between the donors and the Guyanese is being facilitated to encourage the real and meaningful local ownership that is essential to the long-term sustainability of this initiative.
(Left) Ian Alexander facilitates a workshop in Georgetown, Guyana during an earlier CIDA-funded mission to conduct media management training, which paved the way for the current DDD media governance initiative
(Right) Ian Alexander facilitating a workshop on media governance in Georgetown, Guyana in September 2009