Press Gazette helps overturn Cayman Government ban

The Cayman Islands Government has dropped a newspaper advertising ban branded “authoritarian” and “repressive”.

According to the Cayman Net News, international pressure, including an article in Press Gazette, helped secure the U-turn.

The Cayman Islands Cabinet passed a directive in February banning government departments from advertising with the Net News, which is one of two daily papers in the islands.

Owner/editor Desmond Seales said the ban was imposed because of editorial coverage critical of the Government and claimed it could cost his publication £100,000 a year.

This week the Net News announced the lifting of the ban and Seales thanked Press Gazette for highlighting the issue.

He said: “We are going to continue printing the news as it happens, when it happens, including the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. So it is up to the leaders in our community to ensure they conduct themselves and govern accordingly.”

During the period of the ban, Seales said support for the paper came from a variety of local and international sources. “?This is a significant victory, not just for us, but press freedom in general. I am particularly grateful to Press Gazette and the Association of Caribbean Media Workers for their support and intervention.

“There is no doubt the questions raised by Press Gazette made the Government squirm with embarrassment and were instrumental in prompting the Government to review and ultimately rescind the ban.”

He said that since the end of the ban, the paper had received record levels of advertising, largely due to the liberalisation of Cayman’s telecommunications laws.

The Cayman Islands is a British crown colony with a population of 40,000 and the Net News is largely staffed by ex-pat Britons.

According to the Cayman Government, the decision to stop advertising with the Cayman Net News was only driven by value for money considerations.

A spokesman said the Cayman Islands was “a country with a long tradition of democracy and press freedom, of which it is rightly proud”.

By Dominic Ponsford

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