Telecommunications Authority refers CCN TV6 ‘crime’ to Director of Public Prosecutions

Full text of the news release issued by Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago

October 31th 2011

INVESTIGATION OF VIDEO CLIP SHOWN ON TV6

CRIME WATCH PROGRAM ON 25TH AND 26TH OCTOBER 2011

 

The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (the Authority) has written CCN TV6 and forwarded a copy of that letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions in view of the potential breach of the Sexual Offences Act, by airing on television, a video clip showing the rape of a child.

The video clip was aired on TV6 during the programme titled Crime Watch, on Tuesday October 25th at 6:00pm and at approximately 10:30 pm and repeated on Wednesday October 26th at 6:00pm.

The Authority has viewed the programme and has registered its deep concern with CCN TV6 over the airing of the video clip on ‘Crime Watch’ allegedly depicting the rape of a thirteen year old girl whose face was displayed in a subsequent interview conducted by Mr. Ian Alleyne, the TV host.

It is the view of the Authority that CCN TV6 demonstrated a lack of good judgement, particularly taking into consideration that on two occasions the programme was aired before 7:00pm when children would most likely be viewing television.

It must be noted that the regulation of Trinidad and Tobago’s telecommunications and broadcasting sectors is governed by the Telecommunications Act 2001 as amended by the Telecommunications (Amendment) Act 2004 (the “Act”). This legislation establishes and empowers the Authority to regulate the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, including the management of spectrum.

The Concession granted to CCN TV6 on 1st March, 2006 for the provision of television broadcasting services provides, inter alia that:

D8. The concessionaire shall at all times in the provision of the Broadcasting Services comply with the provisions of the Broadcasting Code promulgated in accordance with the Act.

 

D9. Without prejudice to Condition D8, and until such time as a Broadcasting Code is promulgated in accordance with the Act, the concessionaire shall not:

 

(a) transmit any programme, information or other material which degrades or portrays in a negative manner or discriminates against or encourages discrimination against any person or group by reason of race, origin, class, religion or sex;

(b) transmit any programme, information or other material which is hostile to any country; or,

(c) broadcast programme, information or other material which endangers the security of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, violates any law, is of a defamatory nature, is subversive to peace or public order or is otherwise contrary to the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.

In this regard the Authority has written to CCN TV 6, bringing to their attention the following:

  • The fact that a minor was involved;
  • On both occasions the content was aired between the hours of 6:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m. which is a period when children are likely to be watching television;
  • The broadcast may be in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • The fact that moral and ethical values were seemingly not given sufficient consideration in the decision to broadcast the content.

The Authority’s letter to CCN TV 6 cited section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act, which states:

32. (1) Before or after a person is accused of an offence under this Act, no matter likely to lead members of the public to identify a person as the complainant in relation to that accusation shall either be published in Trinidad and Tobago in a written publication available to the public or be broadcast in Trinidad and Tobago except where, on the application of the complainant, the Court directs that the effect of the restriction is to impose a substantial and unreasonable restriction on the reporting of proceedings and that it is in the public interest to remove the restriction in respect of the applicant.

(2) A person who publishes or broadcasts any matter contrary to subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars and to imprisonment for five years.

(3) Subsection (2) refers to—

(a) in the case of a publication in a newspaper or periodical, any proprietor, any editor and publisher of the newspaper or periodical;

(b) in the case of any other publication, the person who publishes it; and

(c) in the case of a broadcast a body corporate, which transmits or provides the programme in which the broadcast is made and any person having functions in relation to the programme corresponding to those of an editor of a newspaper.

(4) In subsection (1), “complainant” includes in relation to a person accused of an offence under this Act, the person against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed.

CCN TV6 was advised that, in the view of the Authority, a criminal offence may have been committed.

Further to the above, the Authority expressed the view that the action of CCN TV6 was further compounded when the Statement of Principles and Editorial Guidelines from One Caribbean Media’s (parent company of CCN TV6) appeared to have been breached. This statement includes specific guidelines in relation to the treatment of broadcasts involving children, as per the following excerpts:

 

Children are the most vulnerable sector of our population. We accept extra responsibility for their welfare. Protection of their rights is a cornerstone of our commitment not to exploit them.

  • Children should not be identified, either by name or face, as witnesses to a crime
  • Children should not be quoted in reports that might expose them to the risk of violence, abuse, ridicule or punishment in any form.
  • In cases involving allegations of “incest”, the word incest should be avoided where the child victim might be identified.
  • Extra editorial judgment should be exercised in the publications of details where a victim’s identity might be adduced.
  • etc

The letter to CCN TV6 further stated:

“Apart from the current complaint mentioned above, the Authority wishes to advise that, over the past few months, several complaints have also been received regarding the ‘Crime Watch’ program. In particular, the Authority was concerned over the airing of certain content in respect of the person who was killed and dismembered in a recent accident and which content was shown during a period when it was likely that many children would have been in the viewing audience.

CCN TV6 was also made aware that the Authority widely consulted on a proposed Broadcasting Code in which CCN TV6 participated and which Code contained various provisions relating to protection of children including appropriate scheduling of programs (watershed), sexual themes, nudity and pornographic material and the participation of children in programmes.

It was further noted that although the Broadcasting Code has not yet been promulgated, the Authority sought to encourage CCN TV6 to abide by the provisions of the draft Code – as a general guide – and should seek to have its hosts conscious of the provisions outlined in the draft Broadcasting Code and exercise caution whilst performing their duties as TV ‘talk show’ hosts or in similar capacity.

CCN TV6 was reminded that they were required to abide by all the Conditions of their Concession and noted that it was also a breach of the Concession to fail to adhere to all the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.

CCN TV6 was admonished that the desire to achieve high TV ratings should not be done at the expense of the rights of the individual and certainly not at the expense of the rights of the child

CCN TV6 was advised that the Authority will continue to investigate the matter in relation to the complaints that have been received and in view of the potential breach of the Sexual Offences Act, the Authority has forwarded a copy of the letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for his action, as deemed appropriate.


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