Barbados During the latter part of 2012, the Prime Minister and members of the ruling Democratic Labour Party refused an invitation to participate in a Town Hall meeting mounted by the leading newspaper, The Nation, in order to discuss the political leadership of the country. Generally, the governing party ignores the independent media and tongue-lash members of the Press who dare to question their performance or decision-making. During the January – February 2013 General Elections campaign, The Nation received significant advertising from the ruling party, whereas, previously, that party had chosen to advertise solely with the competitor, The Advocate, which is seen as the “pro-government” paper. The Nation holds the significantly larger audience reach. On the state-run and only television station in Barbados - the nightly parade of ministers was increased unashamedly. There were no televised debates between the two main political parties. There were five half-hour each political broadcasts, three for Government representatives and two for opposition representatives. While there has been liberalisation of the radio airwaves, the issuance of licences is still not transparent. Alarmingly, in preparing for the general elections, the governing party announced the establishment of a radio station carrying their name and message for the last seven days of the campaign. This station allowed listeners to tune in to political meetings held by the party and to speeches and presentations by the party’s leadership. To date there is no information on the granting of a licence to this station which established an advantage over the opposition. In the interest of democracy, other media houses are calling for an explanation of this unusual development. Barbados is yet to boast of a Freedom of Information Act, despite active talk of such in recent years. Eastern Caribbean and Guyana In the Eastern Caribbean as well as Guyana, political control of the media still remains a matter of concern owing to the presence of media outlets with strong political affiliation. Other countries in the Eastern Caribbean have failed to enact legislation to support the operations of a free and unfettered Press. The Eastern Caribbean, like most of the rest of the world, continues to feel the effects of the global economic downturn. Governments have been trying to soften the impact of the economic downturn on the poor by increasing social programmes like public assistance payments, income support to farmers and casual and road repair work programmes, but they are limited in what they can do as they too are feeling the effects of reduced revenue. Jamaica It continues to be lingering concerns about press freedom issues in the country. Five years after a government-appointed committee recommended libel and defamation reforms, and about three years after a parliamentary committee signed off on changes, they are yet to be approved by the country’s Parliament. This failure to approve and sign into law libel changes is having a chilling effect on media. The Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ) and the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) have been pressing Parliament and the Government to act on libel and defamation reform. The country’s Justice Minister has promised that the Jamaican Parliament is expected to approve the libel and defamation bill during this legislative year that ends on March 31, 2013. There is also concern on legislation about cyber or online crimes. The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the police force are pushing for cyber defamation to be made into a criminal act. Media have labeled this position as extremely disturbing, arguing that it is going against a worldwide trend to decriminalize libel, and protect the fundamental right of freedom of expression. Trinidad and Tobago The State has retained its media assets--in radio and television with associated online presence. The government, and State-owned businesses and agencies place their advertising disproportionately with the State-owned media, and also with media entities whose output is generally regarded as favourable to the administration. Crime remains a significant problem in Trinidad and Tobago - gun murders arising from robberies, gang rivalry and drug trafficking are prevalent. Reports on criminal activity dominate the news media. Personal safety is a paramount concern.