Categorized | Features, General

De Ole Dawg – Part 1:2017 – Dissecting a smear – Fibre Optics Facts vs UK Tabloids

 Why are some UK Tabloids disregarding the truth on the Montserrat Fibre Optics Project?

BRADES, Montserrat, Jan 9, 2017 – Last Thursday, Jan. 5th, the UK ISP Review correctly reported:

“The British Overseas Territory of Montserrat, which is a small Caribbean island that was largely devastated after the Soufrière Hills volcano began erupting from mid-1995, has won £4.94m from UK Department for International Development in order to roll-out “superfast broadband” on the island.”[1] 

It also pointed out that – astonishingly – some of the more notorious UK Tabloids seem to think the project is a waste or misuse.  For instance, The Sun lines up some ordinary (and sadly ill-informed) people[2]:

Builder Mike Coulson, 51: “The foreign aid is just a joke . . . We should be looking after ourselves first and sort out our own broadband instead of giving it to people in other countries.”

Cafe boss Joanne Heslop, 43: “It makes you angry that you have paid your taxes and the government are sending that money to another country.”

Shop owner Charlotte Brown, 29: “Why would they spend money in the Caribbean when we need it in this country? It’s ludicrous.” [Emphases added.]

Even more sadly revealing, the Sun January 4th article leads with:

BRITS are spending £5 million on super-fast broadband for a tiny Caribbean island despite terrible connection speeds in the UK, The Sun can reveal.

DFID is blowing the fortune to construct an underwater Fibre Optic cable to the volcanic island of Montserrat, which has a population of just 4,900.

What the Sun fails to properly disclose and explain in the article is, first, the simple fact that as an Overseas Territory, Montserrat is British. Second, it failed to clearly point out that a major reason for the improved digital data access for Montserrat is to boost our prospects for economic recovery after twenty years of volcanic eruption-triggered disaster. But, most tellingly of all, it failed to point out clearly that on December 22 last, the very same newspaper had already reported[3] how:

AROUND 600,000 extra homes and businesses in rural areas are in line for superfast broadband, the [UK] Culture Secretary has announced.

Some £440million will be used to connect properties in the hardest-to-reach parts of the UK under the Broadband Delivery UK programme (BDUK), Karen Bradley said.

In short, the UK Government is clearly NOT robbing British people of high speed Internet access to throw away yet more money on dodgy consultancies, cash handouts to people in corrupt countries, etc. (Yes, the Sun piled on a list of claimed dubious DFID projects elsewhere. This invites the fallacy, tainting with guilt by association. [And by the way, the photograph used seems to be taken in Antigua.])

On January 5th, Daily Mail also piled on[4]– using its characteristic sentence + bullet point header:

Britain spends £4.9MILLION on superfast broadband for tiny island of Montserrat – while over a million people here still don’t have decent internet

  • Department for International Development has earmarked funding of £4.94m
  • About 1.4 million UK homes are unable to access fast enough broadband speeds
  • Montserrat had its internet supply cut off in a volcanic eruption 19 years ago

Again, we see much the same dodgy associations and failure to disclose an earlier article[5] – this time, on November 23rd 2016:

Get ready for superfast internet: £1 billion investment could bring ‘full-fibre’ and 5G broadband to families across the UK

  • More than £400 million will boost broadband speeds around the UK 
  • ‘Full-fibre’ networks will have the capacity to reach speeds of 1Gbps
  • Entire Game Of Thrones series could be downloaded in less than a minute
  • Another £740 million will go towards providing a trial 5G networks to the winning local authorities

So in fact, two months ago, the UK Government publicly committed to spending over a billion pounds on improving Internet access in the UK. The journalistic spin game falls apart on closer inspection. But that’s not all.

The Daily Mail, in the midst of its article on our Fibre Optics project, actually cited an all- too- telling exchange of views:

The [UK] Government claims that by funding the project it will boost Montserrat’s ‘economic growth and international investment and will, in the longer-term, reduce reliance on UK budgetary aid.’

But Conservative MP David Morris said: ‘it’s concerning that when so many rural areas on the British mainland can’t get online properly, so much cash is going overseas for broadband.’

It then went on to cite a former DFID Minister saying that it would be easier to get support for overseas aid “if we can get our own infrastructure needs in order.” But, that was exactly what was done in this case.  And, if “[s]uper speed broadband isn’t just some nice to have extra, it’s vital to British success . . . ” – doesn’t the exact same logic apply to the UK’s volcano-devastated Overseas Territory, Montserrat?

It seems that both the Sun and the Daily Mail owe Montserrat a public apology, and space for a reply. The incident also indicates that many ordinary people, journalists and even politicians in the UK are grossly ignorant about Montserrat and its development challenges. That is why they were so readily manipulated into embarrassing assertions used by these tabloids to push their own agendas.

That instantly underscores the need to support our Montserrat Office in the UK and diaspora leadership in making our case to parliament, press and public alike. Only knowledge, understanding, concern and good will built up over the years can break the power of journalistic or political manipulation.  We cannot afford to delay making our case in the UK, making it well, and making it again and again.

Nor, can we afford to neglect the plank in our own eyes. For, we have indeed had several projects and programmes here that clearly showed poor governance and bad performance. Concerns regarding transparency, accountability, risk management, value for money and even fitness for purpose have come up as serious concerns with our public service. Too often, some of our own politicians have indulged in irresponsible smear tactics. So have some of our journalists. Too often, we have spread it further as gossip. 

Now, we see where such poisonous talk leads. Let us pause, think again and do better.  END

[1]              http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/01/uk-gov-commits-4-94m-help-deploy-fibre-broadband-montserrat.html

[2]           https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2536261/brits-spending-5million-on-super-fast-broadband-for-a-tiny-caribbean-island-despite-terrible-connection-speeds-in-the-uk/

[3]           https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2457624/440m-to-be-spent-on-600000-extra-homes-in-rural-areas-to-get-superfast-broadband-culture-secretary-announces/

[4]              http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4089660/Britain-spends-4-9MILLION-superfast-broadband-tiny-island-Monserrat-million-people-don-t-decent-internet.html

[5]           http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3964040/Get-ready-superfast-internet-1-billion-investment-bring-fibre-5G-broadband-families-UK.html

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 Why are some UK Tabloids disregarding the truth on the Montserrat Fibre Optics Project?

BRADES, Montserrat, Jan 9, 2017 – Last Thursday, Jan. 5th, the UK ISP Review correctly reported:

“The British Overseas Territory of Montserrat, which is a small Caribbean island that was largely devastated after the Soufrière Hills volcano began erupting from mid-1995, has won £4.94m from UK Department for International Development in order to roll-out “superfast broadband” on the island.”[1] 

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It also pointed out that – astonishingly – some of the more notorious UK Tabloids seem to think the project is a waste or misuse.  For instance, The Sun lines up some ordinary (and sadly ill-informed) people[2]:

Builder Mike Coulson, 51: “The foreign aid is just a joke . . . We should be looking after ourselves first and sort out our own broadband instead of giving it to people in other countries.”

Cafe boss Joanne Heslop, 43: “It makes you angry that you have paid your taxes and the government are sending that money to another country.”

Shop owner Charlotte Brown, 29: “Why would they spend money in the Caribbean when we need it in this country? It’s ludicrous.” [Emphases added.]

Even more sadly revealing, the Sun January 4th article leads with:

BRITS are spending £5 million on super-fast broadband for a tiny Caribbean island despite terrible connection speeds in the UK, The Sun can reveal.

DFID is blowing the fortune to construct an underwater Fibre Optic cable to the volcanic island of Montserrat, which has a population of just 4,900.

What the Sun fails to properly disclose and explain in the article is, first, the simple fact that as an Overseas Territory, Montserrat is British. Second, it failed to clearly point out that a major reason for the improved digital data access for Montserrat is to boost our prospects for economic recovery after twenty years of volcanic eruption-triggered disaster. But, most tellingly of all, it failed to point out clearly that on December 22 last, the very same newspaper had already reported[3] how:

AROUND 600,000 extra homes and businesses in rural areas are in line for superfast broadband, the [UK] Culture Secretary has announced.

Some £440million will be used to connect properties in the hardest-to-reach parts of the UK under the Broadband Delivery UK programme (BDUK), Karen Bradley said.

In short, the UK Government is clearly NOT robbing British people of high speed Internet access to throw away yet more money on dodgy consultancies, cash handouts to people in corrupt countries, etc. (Yes, the Sun piled on a list of claimed dubious DFID projects elsewhere. This invites the fallacy, tainting with guilt by association. [And by the way, the photograph used seems to be taken in Antigua.])

On January 5th, Daily Mail also piled on[4]– using its characteristic sentence + bullet point header:

Britain spends £4.9MILLION on superfast broadband for tiny island of Montserrat – while over a million people here still don’t have decent internet

Again, we see much the same dodgy associations and failure to disclose an earlier article[5] – this time, on November 23rd 2016:

Get ready for superfast internet: £1 billion investment could bring ‘full-fibre’ and 5G broadband to families across the UK

So in fact, two months ago, the UK Government publicly committed to spending over a billion pounds on improving Internet access in the UK. The journalistic spin game falls apart on closer inspection. But that’s not all.

The Daily Mail, in the midst of its article on our Fibre Optics project, actually cited an all- too- telling exchange of views:

The [UK] Government claims that by funding the project it will boost Montserrat’s ‘economic growth and international investment and will, in the longer-term, reduce reliance on UK budgetary aid.’

But Conservative MP David Morris said: ‘it’s concerning that when so many rural areas on the British mainland can’t get online properly, so much cash is going overseas for broadband.’

It then went on to cite a former DFID Minister saying that it would be easier to get support for overseas aid “if we can get our own infrastructure needs in order.” But, that was exactly what was done in this case.  And, if “[s]uper speed broadband isn’t just some nice to have extra, it’s vital to British success . . . ” – doesn’t the exact same logic apply to the UK’s volcano-devastated Overseas Territory, Montserrat?

It seems that both the Sun and the Daily Mail owe Montserrat a public apology, and space for a reply. The incident also indicates that many ordinary people, journalists and even politicians in the UK are grossly ignorant about Montserrat and its development challenges. That is why they were so readily manipulated into embarrassing assertions used by these tabloids to push their own agendas.

That instantly underscores the need to support our Montserrat Office in the UK and diaspora leadership in making our case to parliament, press and public alike. Only knowledge, understanding, concern and good will built up over the years can break the power of journalistic or political manipulation.  We cannot afford to delay making our case in the UK, making it well, and making it again and again.

Nor, can we afford to neglect the plank in our own eyes. For, we have indeed had several projects and programmes here that clearly showed poor governance and bad performance. Concerns regarding transparency, accountability, risk management, value for money and even fitness for purpose have come up as serious concerns with our public service. Too often, some of our own politicians have indulged in irresponsible smear tactics. So have some of our journalists. Too often, we have spread it further as gossip. 

Now, we see where such poisonous talk leads. Let us pause, think again and do better.  END

[1]              http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/01/uk-gov-commits-4-94m-help-deploy-fibre-broadband-montserrat.html

[2]           https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2536261/brits-spending-5million-on-super-fast-broadband-for-a-tiny-caribbean-island-despite-terrible-connection-speeds-in-the-uk/

[3]           https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2457624/440m-to-be-spent-on-600000-extra-homes-in-rural-areas-to-get-superfast-broadband-culture-secretary-announces/

[4]              http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4089660/Britain-spends-4-9MILLION-superfast-broadband-tiny-island-Monserrat-million-people-don-t-decent-internet.html

[5]           http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3964040/Get-ready-superfast-internet-1-billion-investment-bring-fibre-5G-broadband-families-UK.html