ANTIGUA & BARBUDA There has been, since the change of government last March 23, prolonged unrest at the state-run ABS TV, the only local station. Used mainly as a propaganda tool of the Antigua Labour Party, the employees, under the United Progressive Party administration, are divided into camps. This has resulted in sickouts and the news being late, misinformation and, lately, unsubstantiated charges of political interference in the news. The only other thing happening in Antigua is that the Bird-owned and opposition ALP aligned Grenville Radio had its utilities disconnected for non-payment of bills. Grenville had not paid bills for decades. The principals of the station have claimed that they are being muzzled. The matter is before the court. With OBSERVER Radio's landmark Privy Council case paving the way, the station has been revolutionized. Other initiatives have come on line, including newspapers and magazines, a Spanish-language one as well; a new cable TV company and a takeover of CTV, formerly owned by the Bird family. THE BAHAMAS Nothing has happened over the past year that has affected press freedom in the Bahamas. Overall, the situation remains satisfactory. BARBADOS This country continues to enjoy freedom of the press. There are no hindrances to the exercise of the profession. Such limitations relate only to toughening relations between government in its third term of office and a press whose vigilance can be a source of public embarrassment to some ministers of government. GUYANA Two privately owned newspapers, the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News and several private television stations operate freely and without censorship or interference. There is a high level of media freedom in Guyana. However, the government recently suspended the licence of one television station CNS Channel Six , for one month. It claimed that the station's coverage of a flood disaster was grossly irresponsible and that despite verbal discussions there had been no change. The station challenged the suspension in court. It was unclear which coverage gave rise to the complaint but commentators suggested that the suspension was excessive and unjustifiable unless it constituted an incitement to riot, which was not the case. The station has since resumed broadcasting. The continuing blot on the record is that the Government maintains a radio monopoly that it inherited from the previous government twelve years ago. New broadcasting legislation has been promised for some time and a government spokesman has said that private radio licences will then be issued. But this process has been taking a long time. This would complete the liberalisation of the media. JAMAICA There is still growing concern about outdated libel laws which allow large awards against the media. A number of appeals against these awards are pending in the courts. The Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ) is currently working on a draft Defamation Act for presentation to the P.J. Patterson-led Government. The draft is proposing changes to the existing libel laws. In the mean time, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has agreed to take on a petition filed by Dudley Stokes, a former Editor-in-Chief of The Gleaner Company, against the Government of Jamaica. The petition cites Jamaica, a member of the 35-country Organization of American States (OAS) since 1969, for multiple violations of the American Convention on Human Rights as it relates to the Government's role in the successful libel suit brought against the newspaper and the former editor by former government minister turned talk-show host, Anthony Abrahams. The libel trial took place in 1996 and jurors returned a judgment for damages for $80 million, the largest award in a libel or personal injury case in the nation's history. Following an appeal, the award was reduced to $35 million on the grounds that the original figure was excessive. Dr. Stokes and the newspaper appealed to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council which held in July last year that the newspaper should pay the $35 million in damages. The money was paid. Mr. Abrahams, a former Minister of Tourism under the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government of the 1980s, sued The Gleaner Company and Dr. Stokes on September 23, 1987 for libel. They were sued after the publication of three stories about allegations of kickback payments. The stories were filed by the international news agency, Associated Press (AP). On other matters, there is concern about the position of some large private firms which often threaten to pull advertising to protest against what they regard as negative coverage. TRINIDAD Freedom of the press continues to flourish in large regard in Trinidad and Tobago.