By Benjamin Flowers: Today the Belize Broadcasting Authority (BBA) issued a notice to radio and television stations reminding them that spreading false information about COVID-19 goes against the terms and conditions of their licenses.
“The media is reminded that they must act professionally and responsibly and develop news items that are researched, unbiased, and factual,” the BBA said.
Breaking Belize News spoke with the Chairman of the Board of the BBA, Evan Tench, who explained that the authority has been noticing a rise in the broadcasting of information that is misleading, containing inaccuracies or completely false.
Tench reminded the owners of TV and radio stations that there are sanctions in place for breaching the terms and conditions of their licenses.
“These are in the law. There are fines and even imprisonment but we are not there yet,” Tench said. “The BBA just felt it prudent to issue this reminder…”
Tench said that broadcasting, and sharing of inaccurate information is a worldwide problem and that broadcasting authorities all over the world have been issuing similar reminders.
The sharing of misinformation regarding the pandemic has been an issue since the first case was reported in Belize in 2020. Authorities went as far as charging a woman for a Facebook post purporting that a case of COVID-19 detected in San Jose, Orange Walk, when there was no such case.
Last week a group calling themselves the Belize Rights and Justice Movement, began an anti-vaccination campaign and garnered much media coverage. Since then the Ministry of Health and Wellness as well as the Belize Medical and Dental Association have responded to several assertions made by the group, stressing that the information is inaccurate.