Report to the Midyear Meeting
April, 19-22 2022


Following the brief period of press freedom challenges introduced from government-announced containment measures with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic in March 2020, and the economic havoc wrought upon media businesses in the Jamaican environment, freedom of the press has been relatively stable with no reported attacks on journalists. The main issues currently being monitored which have direct or tangential impact on press freedom include.

After 11 years of non-activity, discussion on reform to the 2002 Access to Information Act has resumed. The catalyst for this has been the government becoming a signatory to the Open Government Partnership in January 2021. This program requires the government to implement several projects (including reform of the access to information act) within a specified timeframe to remain a member. While this is encouraging, the immediate challenge however faced by the government is whether to abandon the work from a process started over 15 years ago with the then joint select committee of parliament and start afresh. If the decision, which is being tested at the attorney general's office, is that the work is to be abandoned then it could add several years to update process given the competing updates to other legislation on the parliamentary agenda. It is hopeful however that by virtue of its inclusion in the OGP program it will hold priority.

Following precedent of other countries (e.g., Australia, Canada and Europe) and in alignment with IAPA on its efforts, the Jamaica Media Association and at least one media conglomerate have made overtures to the government and the CARICOM leader to lobby for legislating collective bargaining rights for local and regional players against Hyperscale's Google and Meta (Facebook). Regional media outlets are faced with an accelerated shift of advertising revenue to their online offerings via these Hyperscalers who take a significant share of what are lower revenues relative to traditional placements. This manifests as a threat to press freedom, as there is less financial resource to fund local and credible journalism. The reaction of the government thus far has been lukewarm but the local and regional associations will continue to press hopefully with the support of the IAPA membership.