What is the purpose of the Broadcast Commission?
It simply boggles the mind in this small jurisdiction that supposedly has broadcast rules that govern the audio and visual media as to what is permissible and reasonable for the public airways.
We have a daily talk show that airs under the umbrella of Inter-Island Communications that is brazenly conducted as though no rules apply for fair and balanced views offered for consideration in the marketplace of ideas on any subject.
Monday to Friday every week has the appearance of being the mission of the Sherri Simmons talk show to give its audience a political smorgasbord of ridicule and critique of the One Bermuda Alliance government by the same battle-hardened callers who revile the OBA with relish and with no conscience applied whatsoever to any degree of fair play in public discourse.
The question to be asked is what is the purpose of the Broadcast Commission and exactly what is its mandate? Certainly, we want to ensure that there is no impediment to freedom of speech, and that it is not abridged in any way, but when a disclaimer is used to protect the station from charges of giving its own opinions and promoting a clear political narrative while doing just that.
What needs to be made clear is whether there are any boundaries that all broadcast media are obliged to observe or is the mantra of free speech the ability for a free-for-all on the airways from a biased microphone where the host can give unlimited, self-proclaimed opinions in direct contradiction of the station's disclaimer for its own protection?
This writer is in support of the call-in talk show, which is enshrined in our culture for opinion and, to be very clear, “entertainment”.
In a small community, it would be impossible for the one on the other side of the microphone to not have any views of their own, but to go on wild, extended safaris of personal thoughts in the area of biased political proproganda must be considered beyond the pale and sound reason. Again, I ask: is this within the boundaries of the Broadcast Commission, and are my concerns unnecessary and baseless? If this is so, it would be most helpful to have this verified and my concerns found redundant.
Do we really vest this much power and influence in someone who is thought to be fielding calls from the public and not driving personal narratives, but then telling just that by saying this is my opinion almost daily?
In conclusion, I am of the considered view that we are able to take up a telephone and say almost exactly what we like with few exceptions and enjoy the absolute blessings of the Broadcast Commission. This, of course, is my opinion — no disclaimer necessary.
WAYNE B. SCOTT