81.8 F
Cruz Bay
Tuesday, September 27, 2022


I was very disturbed to read a recent editorial in the Daily News regarding AT&T. Although I have written to the editor of the Daily News about the issue, I am not sure they will print my letter, so I have decided to write to an independent media source as well.
The Daily News editorial that I found disturbing basically consisted of a furious argument that there should be no reduction in the proposed fine assessed against AT&T by the outgoing commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources, primarily because — the paper said — the government needs the money. (Of course, a government’s need for revenue is not a sufficient justification for a fine on anyone.)
But the editorial was particularly disturbing because there was no mention of the paper's very grave conflict of interest.
The well-publicized disputes and competition between Vitelco, the Daily News' "sister" company, and AT&T give those companies reason to hope that AT&T is heavily burdened with fines, and perhaps even discouraged from proceeding with any potential plans to extend service in the Virgin Islands.
I have no idea whether a fine is appropriate in this matter, or what amount would be fair if a fine is justified. So far as I can gather, the legal proceedings on that are still in progress.
If a fine is found warranted, it should be paid. But for a competitor’s voice to be published on the issue, disguised as the unbiased opinion of the press, is just wrong.
If Vitelco and so much of our media are to be commonly owned, I believe the Daily News should stay away from editorializing on issues where Vitelco has a self-interest. And if they cannot bring themselves to do that, they should at least include a very bold disclosure of their conflict of interest every time they bow to that temptation.
Maria Tankenson Hodge
St. Thomas

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