The Government wants one hour per day of State-produced programming on its accomplishments to be aired on local radio and TV stations.
It also wants more local content programming on TV and radio stations operating in Trinidad and Tobago.
And if it is unable to persuade media houses to increase local content on the airwaves, Government may consider, as a last resort, introducing new laws to make TV and radio stations broadcast more local programmes.
Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed made these announcements at a reception for journalists and media managers hosted by his ministry at the Kapok Hotel, Maraval on Wednesday evening.
In a follow-up telephone interview yesterday, he said the government believed there was not enough local content programmes on radio and TV.
"We have to do what we can to encourage more local content," Mohammed said.
He said one way for his ministry to encourage local content was to use "moral suasion" with media owners and operators.
Another was to remind them of the tax concessions offered by the State for locally produced material while another was to reduce the annual broadcast licence fees media houses paid if they increased local content programming.
If all these fail, then Government will consider legislation to make radio and TV stations introduce more locally produced programmes, he said.
He used Canada as an example of a country which implemented legislation to increase local content.
Mohammed said the government also wanted one hour a day of airtime on local stations to broadcast that "this is a government doing things on behalf of the people".
He said the State would depend on each station to abide by a concession granted by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) to allow for Government programming.
"We don't want to use prime time. If we could get five per minutes per hour over 12 hours, we would have special government items to feature each hour," he said.
President of the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association Kiran Maharaj suggested yesterday that Government needed to understand that local content would be better developed today if music and drama subjects had been emphasised in schools.
She also used the example of Canada but pointed out that this country's population was substantially larger than Trinidad and Tobago's and there was a sizeable market for local content there.
However, in Trinidad and Tobago, the format of local stations was dictated by what society wanted to hear and watch.
"If there was a need for local programming, we would do it," Maharaj insisted. "But the history of stations in the country shows that the market is not clamouring for it."
She said in a telephone interview yesterday that it was important to remember that media stations also operated as businesses and in a democracy, the State could not dictate what stations played.
Maharaj argued that if the quality of broadcasts media houses received from the government service was anything to go on, then stations would in trouble (because of poor quality).
While TATT provided licences for media houses to broadcast content, Maharaj said those licences were given to "fulfill the needs of the markets we serve".
"You can't put something in place that restricts that or frustrates the marketplace," she said.
She suggested that Government use its CNMG TV station to experiment with an increase in local content to see how much interest there was in more local programming.