Basseterre, St Kitts, May 30, 2020 – A judge of the St Kitts High Court has ordered the State-owned ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) to allow political commentary or criticism, provided that the language employed is not prohibited by law.
The St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party and the Nevis Reformation Party have complained that the Commissioner of Police was not giving equal treatment to its candidates while candidates of the three party coalition were holding in house public meetings which were prohibited under the regulations.
In a ruling Friday, Justice Trevor Ward QC ordered Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr to ensure that ZIZ implements a policy in a manner which avoids encroaching upon any nominated candidates’ right to equal time on the State-owned media platforms to express political views subject only to the exigencies of government, provide equal news and current affairs coverage; coverage under special broadcasts such as the segment ElectionSKN.
ZIZ is to provide 10 minutes of free radio time per day for each nominated candidate or his or her political party from 30th May to 4th June 2020 between the hours of 9am and 12 noon and 1pm and 3pm; provide 10 minutes of free television time per day for each nominated candidate or his or her political party from 30th May to 4th June 2020 between the hours of 9 am and 12 noon and 1pm and 3pm, provided that all associated production costs will be billed to and paid for by the candidate; provide one hour paid broadcast time for the duration of the political campaign leading to the 2020 general election for each nominated candidate on each of radio, television and social media platform, subject to payment for same in advance, and provided that the Second Defendant reserves the right to cut away from programming once the time has expired and that production costs as
‘For the duration of the political campaign leading to the 2020 general election:
i) to use all reasonable efforts to ensure that all persons, no matter what political affiliation they may hold, including all political parties associated with an event or show be billed to and paid for by the candidate.
Justice Ward also ordered that all parties abide by the Emergency Powers (Covid-19) (No. 8) Regulations SR & O 19 of 2020 and any future Emergency Regulations; and the equal treatment be given to all parties without regard to political affiliation, including the facilitating of a meeting between the High Command of the Police Force and representatives of the political parties and independent candidates.