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News Services, Caribbean

Volume 467: debated on Wednesday 13 July 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has investigated the position in a number of the Caribbean colonies where no English newspapers are on the news-stands and the sole means of obtaining news is from the radio and American Press; and what does he intend to do in order to keep the British Colonies better informed of news and developments in this country.

Yes, Sir. Newspaper sales are restricted by the high cost of despatch by air and the infrequency of the British air service to that area. A scheme to increase the sale of the principal economic and political weekly periodicals by air on a subscription basis is, however, being developed by the trade. As to the second part of the Question, one of the main tasks of the Information Department in the Colonial Office is to assist colonial territories to receive a service of news and information about this country.

Does my hon. Friend not agree that in view of the Government's concern with colonial development, it is of the utmost importance that adequate news services should be developed for the Caribbean area? Could he not have the whole matter reviewed, to see if it cannot be taken up as being one of local urgency?

I agree about the desirability, but it is a matter for the trade.

When my hon. Friend says "Yes, Sir," will he take note that the first part of the Question on the Order Paper is not accurate, since Jamaica at least is served by the redoubtable "Kingston Daily Gleaner," which is a genuine local newspaper, and by one or two smaller ones as well; but, in view of the fact that the radio services in these islands are increasingly going commercial, will he also bear in mind the necessity of supplying a much better service of objective and official information?