Manning spoke for one-hour before a live audience which included Government ministers and PNM party members who clapped intermittently during his speech. His address was broadcast on State-owned CNMG, NCC and IETV at about 8 pm. It was not carried live on TV6, Gayelle or CNC 3, which aired a comedy sitcom instead of Manning’s speech. TV6 aired a UNC/COP coalition rally which it had been contracted to do since last week. Gayelle aired a magazine programme. The broadcast was expected to be aired on these stations at later times.
The Government Information Service Limited has exercised its statutory powers to commandeer air-time, reportedly threatening to revoke station’s licences if they did not air it. The broadcast came as the Telecommunications Authority noted that under legal regulations, the stations were not compelled to broadcast the address but had to be consulted first by the Government in order to arrange an appropriate time. Manning’s use of state-commandeered TV time continues to deepen concerns over the use by the Government of State resources to promote private political gain.