NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
The Isle of Man public service broadcaster has been likened to a government radio station run by a totalitarian regime.
The assertion is all the more astonishing because it was made by the Chairman of Manx Radio, David North, in an opening address to a Tynwald committee currently looking into the future of public sector broadcasting.
North is no George Clooney but he definitely had a `Syriana’ moment when he likened the station he runs to the broadcast media in Assad’s Syria.
Mr North told the committee there was one fundamental question he would like to pose.
`The question is a quite simple one – is Manx Radio a public service broadcaster or are we are state broadcaster?
`In other words are we like the BBC or are we like Syrian radio, no more than a government mouthpiece? Editorially we’ve always thought of ourselves as a public service broadcaster but in my opinion, against all the intentions of Tynwald, regrettably we have become a state broadcaster incapable of determining our own future by virtue of our structure.’
North (a former MHK/MLC and government Minister) and the Managing Director of Manx Radio, Antony Pugh, went on to outline a scenario where the station was given BBC funding similar to the arrangement which operates for S4C in Wales.
Manx Radio has recently had its subvention from the Manx government cut and the stations revenue (it operates on a quasi-commercial basis) has fallen – hence the outburst from Messrs North and Pugh.
The Celtic League has consistently said that the Manx government should retain licence fees paid to the UK (currently around £5 million pounds) to fund a range of domestic broadcast services including audio and visual media. However a Tynwald committee which considered the matter recently failed to grasp the nettle and the BBC continues to rip-off Manx residents by levying its full licence fee and failing to provide the same service it gives to other National areas in the UK.
There is perhaps the chance that North’s choice of provocative language before this select committee may wake them up to the fact that the issue needs to be addressed.
J B Moffatt (Mr)
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