Sunday, April 7, 2013

Media Complaints Council still in business

Media Complaints Council still in business Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 Yvonne Baboolal Text Size: The Media Complaints Council (MCC), formed 16 years ago, had almost died, but was resurrected a few months ago. The passing of an important person on the council contributed to the temporary demise of the MCC the T&T Guardian was told. Also, the MCC had been working on a broadcasters’ code, still in the draft stages. Asked if the MCC has been resurrected, Kiran Maharaj, president of the T&T Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA), said: “A few months now.” She added, however, it was never really out of the loop. The MCC came into being in 1997 after the TTPBA, now comprising five television stations and 22 radio stations, saw the need for a code of ethics to regulate the media industry. Its chairman, attorney Patricia Dindial, said over the last two weeks more complaints than before have been made against the media to the MCC. Complainants can call or write. A Web site is in the making and is almost finished. The MCC is working on four cases right now, two against the print media and two against radio stations, Dindial said yesterday. Sport Minister Anil Roberts was not one of the complainants, she said. Roberts has complained about an article in the T&T Guardian which he said was untrue, and threatened legal action. The TTPBA, in a recent media release, stating it recognised the issue at hand, said there were other avenues available to the public in treating with inaccuracy in reporting. One of those avenues is the MCC, the TTPBA said. Dindial said complaints of “inappropriate language” had been made against the radio stations. Trying to figure out what was causing the increase in complaints, she surmised: “Maybe media houses are getting bolder.” And they were getting bolder because Trinis, being what they were, were reluctant to complain, she said. “We have to make it easier for people to complain. That’s why the MCC is using telephone lines,” Dindial said. The current members of the MCC are Patricia Dindial (chairman), Robert Henry (vice chairman), Haran Ramkaransingh (secretary), Dr Kris Rampersad, Joel Nanton and Bro Harrypersad Maharaj. The MCC can be reached at 794-7416. What the Media Complaints Council does The MCC’s mission statement is: “to help maintain public trust and confidence in the news media by promoting fairness, courtesy and balance and by creating a forum where the public and the news media can engage each other in examining standards of journalistic fairness.” It also provides an opportunity to hold the media accountable without going to court. The MCC was established in 1997 after the government produced a green paper on the media. In 2004, the TTPBA and the Media Association (MATT) came up with an industry code of ethics which states a journalist must ensure the credibility of a story as far as possible. The MCC is charged with enforcing this code. It cannot impose fines.