This television station was sued for defamation of character by Minister of National Security John Saldivar, who is also the Belmopan Area representative. John Saldivar claimed that earlier this year statements made about him on our “Rise and Shine” morning program by co-host Patrick Jason Andrews defamed his character. PlusTV Director Louis Wade had taken the position that the lawsuit was an attempt to stifle freedom of speech and to muzzle independent press in Belize. Well on Monday, just before the File management hearing could be completed, both sides decided to settle the matter out of court. Director of PlusTv, Louis Wade spoke to the media on Monday immediately following the settlement.
Mr. Louis Wade- Director of PLUS TV Station
“Well, essentially let me take this opportunity to thank a group of residents from Belmopan, who, over the last month, have been diligently to get both sides of the issue together, so that we could have an amicable out-of-court solution. I ‘m happy to say that today, a few moments before the matter, they began to work out the file case management that we were able to come to that final agreement and conclusion. So, I think those people felt, and we felt also that Belmopan is a very small community, and in many areas, we lead the way. So, essentially, we felt comfortable with this opportunity for both sides to come together and have an out-of-court settlement. That is where we are right now…as you know, Rise and Shine is a program that airs on PLUS TV. So, I am here as a PLUS TV representative, because the comments that were made, were made on Rise and Shine on PLUS TV. So, we became the first claimants, but I am so thankful that, especially with the issues that we have, we have to move forward. On PLUS TV, we want both political parties and smaller political parties to be able to access PLUS TV. And after a little while, it was becoming a little bit frustrating…and so, this clears the air for PLUS TV to continue to move forward with everybody accessing the same important service and get the information out”.
Reporter: “Sir, have you all given…as the Minister says or will you all give…agree to give an unreserved apology?”
Louis Wade: “Yes, and let me also say that from the very beginning, that would have been forthcoming and we wanted that to be. There were some other stipulations and so, and I think that bagaging it down while we had not come to that resolution, but the apology, specifically was not the issue, but just some of the other terminology, but thankfully to the Minister and Patrick and the group of friends who have been working diligently, those other issues were moved aside so that we could deal on the real issue. You know, PLUS TV has made a commitment to the nation of Belize that we will deal with every issue that comes across our table; PLUS TV has made a commitment that all of its programs are going to obey the law, and as far as is possible, will ensure that what we say is factual or it is fair comment and that most importantly, our hosts and our callers, one of the shows is live-call-in-talk show, that they have their fair opportunity without fear to be able to share their comments. And so, essentially, that is the kind of atmosphere that we engender at PLUS TV. And I am happy to say that that continues and will always continue. People must be…continue to be free to, within the law, share their comments and know that if dehn dah PUP, UDP or VIP or no P, they can get fair airing on PLUS TV”.
We also had the opportunity to speak to Minister John Saldivar as he exited the Courthouse.
Minister John Saldivar
“I am glad to say that we came to an agreement in court where the two defendants, PLUS TV and Mr. Andrews have agreed to do an apology for the words that were uttered by Mr. Andrews on the Rise and Shine Show and we have agreed to accept that apology. Well, from the outside I had made it clear that this was about my reputation and defending my name, it wasn’t about the money, I’m not interested in getting any money from PLUS TV or Mr. Andrews, and I guard my name and my reputation jealously and I don’t like when anybody tries to impute improper motives to my actions, and so, it was very important to clear my name today.
Reporter: “Is this some level of vindication to you?”
Hon. John Saldivar: “Certainly, certainly, I feel vindicated and I want to say too, that I am very happy that Louis and Jason agreed to this apology and you know, we can still preserve friendships!”
PlusTV hopes that the settlement will allow for the normalization of relationship between the different entities, and that goodwill with which the settlement was brokered will prevail into the future.