Strengthening Media Governance In Guyana
Mission Impossible?

Author(s): Gordon Evans
Publication Date: 2014

This case study describes efforts to strengthen media governance in Guyana though CIDA's Deployment for Democratic Development (DDD) Program. According to the original work plan, the government, media industry and civil society were to engage in a tri-partite national dialogue to increase media independence and responsibility. At the outset, the expected results included modern broadcast legislation, establishment of a permanent regulator, a new media code of conduct and public complaints process, and creation of a media industry association. Then problems began that would change the project dramatically. First, the project's client was unable to continue. Then, the government and the state-controlled media unexpectedly withdrew their participation. What followed was an on-the-fly reinvention of the project from a consensus building to an advocacy role with a new client outside government. In place of facilitating dialogue, obviously impossible given the government boycott, the project focused on establishing the Guyana Media Proprietor's Association (GMPA). The lessons learned from the project are both cautionary; i.e., what to do when the work plan is undermined by an uncooperative partner, and proactive; i.e., what could have been done in advance to mitigate risk. Notwithstanding the perpetually turbulent project environment, the establishment of a media industry association stands as a solid accomplishment. If and when the government pursues meaningful reform of Guyana's media governance, GMPA will be well-positioned to contribute. Democratization is clearly not a linear process.