Headline — 06 June 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
BTL declares war on KREMANDALA!

“Since 1969, we have remained standing with the support of the people,” said Evan “Mose” Hyde

BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 4, 2018– Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), one of the biggest advertisers in the country, has not been doing any advertising business with KREMANDALA’s three companies, the Amandala newspaper, KREM Radio and KREM Television, for several weeks now.

Last Wednesday, the online news service, Belize Breaking News (BBN), reported that sources within BTL had confirmed that the company had pulled all of its advertising from KREMANDALA. BBN reported that they could not confirm how long the advertising boycott of KREMANDALA would last, but it added, “The decision by BTL has all appearances of being vetted out as punishment to the KREMANDALA empire.”

This morning, the host of KREM’s Wake Up Belize morning show, Evan “Mose” Hyde, who is also the executive director of KREM Television, discussed the BTL advertising boycott decision.

Hyde noted, “we have not even been afforded the courtesy of a letter…they have left it up to you all to figure it out for yourselves. So, if you have noticed, there have been no ads in the Amandala or on KREM TV for the last three weeks.”

Hyde said that Breaking Belize News had apparently spoken to people within BTL who had given them the information that the boycott decision had been handed down.

“Let it be known that to be boycotted by BTL is a substantial financial blow; let it be known,” Hyde added.

“There is no prettying that up, but our struggle continues, our journey continues …BTL is owned by the majority shareholder, Government of Belize, for the people of Belize. I don’t understand that BTL is the property of BelChina, and the United Democratic Party. The bill for BTL for damn sure is not being paid by the United Democratic Party. The bill for BTL is not going to be paid by the Barrows; it’s not going to be paid by anybody that is a part of Cabinet,” said Hyde.

Hyde explained that the bill for us to own BTL is going to be paid by every taxpayer in this nation. That means that it is the possession of the people of Belize.

“And if KREM Radio, KREM TV or Amandala newspaper are doing a disservice, are insulting, are disrespecting, and are condemning the interests of the people of Belize, and they have an outcry against us, one can understand such a policy being made. But if it is what we say offends the United Democratic Party, that is no platform which you can justify using BTL to boycott us. But you have the power, because that is how the system is structured, that is how it is designed,” Hyde explained.

Hyde categorized the decision to boycott as a disrespect to the readers, listeners and viewers of KREMANDALA.

“Who you are disrespecting are the people who get up in the morning and turn on KREM Radio, the people who get up in the morning, turn on KREM Television, and the people who on Tuesdays and Fridays buy the Amandala newspaper. You are saying that their listening choice, their viewing choice and reading choice means nothing to you,” Hyde pointed out.

Hyde continued, saying that “the last time I checked, BTL does not promote itself to UDP; it promotes itself to the people.”

Hyde went on to say, “But apparently this is the way the system has now decided to act, the way our government decided to act, and the way the Cabinet decided to act. That they are so politically sensitive and feel that somehow we have aggrieved them so much, that they will now utilize something that belongs to the people of Belize and they will use that to kind of punish us.

“This is the mindset of the people who lead our country. This is them at their best. They are not busy trying to figure out how to energize the economy. They’re not trying to figure out how to create employment opportunities, how to promote growth, how to solve some of the major challenges of our country.

“No, what they use their best brain cells for is how to be personal, how to be discriminatory, how to be petty and how to be malicious. When it comes to malice, that is one area that we cannot deny, that our leaders are excellent at, they are absolutely good at it, you are genius of malice.”

Hyde said that the government is not the only shareholder of BTL; “look at what you are doing to the other shareholders of that company. So to the other shareholders, again we say to you that your company has decided that it is going to wage war on KREM Radio, KREM TV and Amandala newspaper.”

Hyde pointed out that there is no evidence that any of the three KREMANDALA businesses has waged any war against BTL.

“And we have to say to our listeners and our viewers and our readers, we’ve been here before. In 2007, we were taken off the internet, and an advertising boycott was initiated by the then owner of BTL, Mr. Michael Ashcroft… But he was the owner, it was his money. And we drew a line in the sand because we were defending the rights of Mrs. Christine Perriott, and because we defended the rights of Mrs. Perriott and we called him out for his union busting…But the one distinction: He was the owner. So an owner does what he wants to do with his property.

“But BTL in 2007 — we were part of a system that sacrificed to endure, that we were not going to be dominated by some person who did not have our best interests at heart. There is nobody that can deny that 3304 Partridge Street carried its weight.

“And in 2018, Mr. Ashcroft does not own BTL anymore, but Mr. Dean Barrow does not own BTL, and Patrick Faber doesn’t own BTL, and Michael Finnegan doesn’t own BTL, John Saldivar does not own BTL, nobody at BelChina owns BTL. You know who is going to pay back half a billion dollars? The taxpayers of the country!” Hyde said.

Hyde described the situation as the “hour of your finest malice.”

That malice, however, did not go unnoticed by the Opposition People’s United Party, which issued a press release this afternoon with a caption saying, “PUP condemns BTL’s advertising ban on KREMANDALA.”

“The People’s United Party (PUP) calls on the Government of Belize and the Minister responsible for Communications to immediately rescind the advertisement ban imposed by the Board and Management of Belize Telemedia Ltd. (BTL) on the KREMANDALA organization,” stated the release.

The PUP release continued: “It has come to the attention of the PUP that BTL, a company which the Prime Minister is fond of saying – ‘belongs to the people of Belize’, has discontinued advertising with KREM Radio and TV and the Amandala newspaper. While BTL is claiming budgetary constraints, sources inside the company have stated that the decision is based on instructions coming from the leadership of the United Democratic Party (UDP)”.

The PUP release added, “The PUP reminds the government and particularly Prime Minister Dean Barrow that he, through a decision made unilaterally, saddled the people of Belize with close to $600M in debt for BTL. His rationalization was and continues to be that BTL now belongs to the people of Belize.”

“Additionally, taxpayers of Belize have been saddled with excessive loans to the tune of tens of millions of dollars to pay for projects carried out by BTL – including a sovereign guarantee,” the release says.  It then ends by saying, “The KREMANDALA organization, which maintains a significant share of the media market in Belize – more so than WAVE Radio & TV, which continues to benefit from BTL ads, should be treated fairly. We condemn any action by this government and the UDP to use the people’s assets to punish those who are seen as political enemies. Such actions cannot and will not be tolerated.”

Belize Progressive Party (BPP) also weighed in with its support for KREMANDALA today via a press release it captioned: “BPP condemns rumours of BTL boycott of KREMANDALA and Plus TV.”

Their release stated, “Belize Telemedia Limited, BTL, belongs to the people of Belize and not to the United Democratic Party or the government of the day.

“Belizeans are often reminded that this company belongs to us; therefore, it is egregious for the GOB to influence the management of ‘our national company,’ as has been recently implied/cited by way of a news item released by Breaking Belize News (BBN).

“According to Breaking Belize News (BBN), an online news site, they have received credible reports that the GOB has instructed the management of BTL to boycott the productions of two very widely circulated and viewed media houses in the country of Belize. All advertisements have been withdrawn from them, as indicated by BBN.

“If this is true, your Belize Progressive Party calls on the government to stop meddling in BTL’s operations and to allow the company to be run based on business best practices.

“BPP is also calling on BTL to re-establish advertising with these two news stations and not to allow the government of the day to interfere with their day-to-day management of the company.”    “If what the online news source is saying is true, we at the BPP strongly condemn such actions.  BPP is calling on all Belizeans to stand up against all manner of injustice, across the board,” the release said.

The Government Press Office confirmed today that Prime Minister Dean Barrow also holds the Minister of Communications portfolio.

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