LALIT goes much further than other parties in its program for a Free Press; as well as being for a Freedom of Information law that guarantees everyone access to any information that affects them individually, in their neighbourhood, in the State or at the workplace; as well as being in favour of doing away with the criminalization of people with different opinions (through existing laws like Contempt of Court, Criminal Defamation, Outrage against Public and Religious Morality, etc.); LALIT is also in favour of a new kind of organization of the Press (and other media) that give independence from the capitalist class, from the bourgeoisie. Let us explain.
The capitalist system, being in power, quite naturally has a well-nigh total control over all the media, be it the Press, MBC or private commercially-run radio stations. The MBC is controlled not just by the State, but by the Regime. This is notoriously true, and we need bring no evidence, so much is there every single day. But the “state” today is a capitalist one, so the MBC is controlled by the capitalist class, one-removed. Just about all the other mainstream media are controlled directly by capitalists. This control is exercised at all sorts of different levels, some direct, some more indirect.
The Profit Motive
Firstly, all the Press empires, newspapers and radios, are run as private companies. Their aim, bottom line, is to make profit for those who invest in them. Even when they run at a loss, their aim is to run at a profit. So, they share an aim with the capitalists: the profit motive. There are, in the final analysis, those who own and control the shares, the capital, and it is, in the final analysis, them who decide. They hire and fire. So even very high-up editors, know this, from personal experience, though you would not think so from what they write. Finlay Salesse lost all his “tan servis” over a conflict with his bosses. Gilbert Ahnee resigned over another. And so on.
Ads and sponsors
Secondly, the Press depends for much more than half its revenue, often nearly 100%, on advertisements and sponsorship from private companies, most of them enormous outfits, often multinationals. Car firms, banks, insurance companies, mobile phone outfits, food chains are the bread-and-butter of what fills our eyes in the Press and ears on Radio, while they fill the pockets of the share-holders of the commercially-run Press. This is bound to affect the general political “line” of the media. In fact, it is evident that it does.
Thirdly, there is a large State budget for advertisements, and the State being a bourgeois one, means that this is yet another influence of the bourgeoisie.
Fourthly, especially in the past 10 years, there has been heavy financing of “the press” in broad terms by imperialist countries, in particular, the USA. You will notice that, as never before, the Embassies have access to the pages of the media. The US control works mainly through the “National Endowment for Democracy”, founded in the ’80s and funded by USAID is behind a lot of the Press in countries that need influencing. As the Diego Garcia lease comes up for renewal soon, this explains the influence of the US in Mauritius over the past 10 years, especially in the Press. It is a bipartisan outfit designed to replace the CIA, in fields where its work of funding and pumping up dictators had become too unpopular.
The Editorial Line
Fifthly, there is the influence of the editorial line. This reflects the interests of some “elite”, in its own right, of the social class around professional journalists. These top employees, though not owners, tend to reflect their own elitist notions, and their own class prejudices, most often without being aware of it. More consciously, they might provide “Press pardons” to members of their families, clubs, Rotaries and so on, and their social networks; this means not mentioning, or quickly forgetting, their sins, misdemeanors and even their crimes.
A bit of Spite here and there
Because the Press is not accountable to anyone, some of its top employees sometimes allow themselves some petty spite and meanness in conflicts within the petty-bourgeoisie which are not easy to resolve rationally.
A Press Independent of these Influences
LALIT proposes that the Press could and should be run some other way. Raymond Williams is one of the theorists, who has come up with excellent ideas for co-operatives, and for newspapers and radios sponsored by the State, but not run by or controlled by, the State.