US wants independent Guyana broadcast authority ; disagrees with self-censorship

US wants independent Guyana broadcast authority ; disagrees with self-censorship  May 2, 2012 – Demerara Waves

The United States on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day- Thursday- welcomed Guyana’s move to end the decades-old government monopoly on radio broadcasting but called on government to ensure a fair system in granting radio station licenses.

“Going forward, it is vital that this process comes under the purview of an impartial and transparent national broadcast authority,” American Ambassador to Guyana, Brendt Hardt Wednesday night told a media reception at his residence in honour of World Press Freedom Day.

Those present included journalists, state and private media managers, opposition politicians, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and President Donald Ramotar. 

Hardt’s comments came against the background of the granting of 11 radio station licenses by then President Bharrat Jagdeo in the absence of a National Broadcasting Authority. Government’s explanation has been that the authority is being held up by the Opposition Leader’s refusal to nominate a member. The Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) in the last parliament had vowed to scrap the Broadcasting Act if the opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) had won last November’s general election.

“It is very encouraging that the government has taken steps to free the airwaves of Guyana and end the model of limited state enforced radio that has restricted the public’s access to the airwaves,” said Hardt.

Successive Guyana governments since the late 1970s have had a stranglehold on radio broadcasting ever since the nationalization of the then Radio Demerara.

The US Ambassador, who had been posted elsewhere in the Caribbean before coming to Guyana, noted that in sister Caricom countries radio talk shows and news broadcasts “are really the lifeblood of political and social discourse.”

Hardt applauded the “initial” approval of the new radio broadcast licenses and said he looked forward to seeing the approval process for those and other potential stations finalized in the near future.

The privately-owned Guyana Publications Limited, publishers of Stabroek News, KA Juman Yassin and Chandra Narine Sharma have long applied for radio stations but have not been named among the 11.

Touching on the issue of content, the US envoy flatly rejected suggestions in sections of the media that media in developing countries should engage in self-censorship and minimize reporting crime and corruption while providing news that will promote development.

“I find such suggestions a bit troubling. While it is certainly vital for the media to do its job well, report accurately and to convey varying perspectives, journalists should not be asking themselves if and how information they report will affect national development. Advancing national development is a job for elected representatives, working with the private sector and civil society,” he said.

He prefers to see the media take public debate to the public on issues that affect people directly such as citizens security, corruption or poverty or violence so that they can be understood and addressed effectively by government and legislatures and civil society

According to Hardt, he is “greatly impressed” by the variety and the scope of media outlets, the vitality of the press in Guyana and their willingness to take on tough issues.

The US Ambassador praised the media corps for producing four quality daily newspapers and quality radio and television shows.


—Post #1355

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  • Cyril Balkaran  On May 4, 2012 at 2:41 am

    It is heartening to note that the current US ambassador to Guyana has given public praises to Bharat Jagdeo, former President for his approval of Broadcast Liscences to some 11 would be broadcasters. The time is ready for the monopoly of the State on this aspect of real life to come to an end as it existed since the 1970’s. The Freedom that was ushered into the life of the Guyanese people since President Carter sanitized the Electoral listings and allowed Guyana a Free and Fair election must now be complete. Lets have the public talk shows on with the adequate regulatory controls across the board. If the Opposition refuses to name a representative on the new Broadcast board then the Presidential nominee will be one more addition. I fail to understand the hypocracy of some leaders who will not appreciate the price that was paid for the freedom of Guyana since the very 1970’s. Development is a positive measure and the Press must take pride in such reports, so also must be the research on Crime and white collar crimes. A fair and unbiased press is what is needed in this 21st century if real economic progress is to be realized in Guyana of the 21st Century. God Bless Guyana and its population!

  • Kamala Persaud Gupta  On May 8, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Yes indeed, a fair and unbiased press is of vital importance, God bless all Guyanese who have struggled so diligently, inspite of untold miseries to make Guyana a noble country. I cheerfully embrace you dear land of Eldorado and all fellow Guyanese in keeping the flame burning eternally bright. Kamala Gupta,Calgary, Alberta Canada

  • Cyril Balkaran  On May 8, 2012 at 9:37 am

    The World Press Freedom Day was observed only the other day and we have learnt of numerous sacrifices editors and freedom loving Journalists have had to endure in order for the truth to be made known. Yes the truth shall make you Free. Those ignoble Politicians the world over are the ones who supress the freedom of the Press due to their own miscomduct in Public Offices. LFS did not spare anyone as he had his hit men in the guise of the House of Isarel who were guilty of slaying Father Drake of the Catholic standard who called a spade a spade and whose newspaper failed to qualify for the Government Press controlled newsprint,hence the street demonstrations against the state monopoly over the Press. Many of you will remember the name of the American Fugitive, Rabbi Washington who created havock at political meetings in Georgetown and elsewhere conducted by the WPA, PPP and others.Those who refuse to learn the mistakes of history are bound to repeat them. God bless all the Freedom loving people the world over. Only those who have things to hide are afraid of a Free Press. Have a good day folks! God Bless.

    • GTrealist  On May 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Please,Please Mr. Balkaran spare us your long winded diatribes of pro-PPP propaganda. Let us not talk about the Burnham days. Talk about the Jagdeo days when Press freedom was curtailed by denying advertising to the free press newspapers Stabroek News and Kaieteur News – they struggled but have survived.As for radio – we still have only one radio station – just like in the Burnham days. Not much difference between Burnham’s PNC and the present PPP when it comes to denying freedom to the press and people. remember the killing of Mr. Waddell who challenged the PPP in his on-air commentaries.

      As a recent UG graduate I hope to stay in a freer Guyana where opportunities are there for me and my peers. People are still leaving Guyana in droves with all the so-called development of the last 20 years. Yes there is private money that is developing Guyana, but where is the public money? Most of it is being spent on projects that fail – stellings that float away and roads that deteriorate in a few weeks. The free press has reported the stealing and the wastage in this PPP govt and they have been victimized.
      So Mr. Balkaran … talk about what is happening in Guyana TODAY… You seem stuck in the past – and LFSB and his PNC, in all of your comments on various subjects. Get a life… comment on the subjects in the PRESENT and stop your old-style PPP propaganda… or maybe you are being paid to do your stuff??!!!

      The USA has their eyes on Guyana… That is why they posted Mr Brandt there – a man with NATO experience. The PPP crooks and drug facilitators are worried.

  • Sybil  On May 10, 2012 at 4:09 am

    Good work GTrealist. If you are a young soul, I applaud you for the brilliant exchange of ideas you are contributing to this dialogue. Indeed, what we are reading in these blogs are truly old ideas of the past. It seems as though some of these folks are trapped in a time capsule and what they have to offer is so dated I sometimes have to pinch myself to see if I am still here.

    Politics is a dirty game and all politicians are guilty of the unspeakable political decisions they foster but it seems that the defenders of the PPP are in a class by themselves and have no concept of fairness and truth.

    I can remember Father Dart, who was killed by a Burnham thug and I was outrage but were any of the PPP supporters ourtage at the killing of Mr. Waddle by supporther of the PPP death squad? These thugs hated the truth and snuffed the life out of the truth teller. What a horrible way to lose one’s life.

    I truly hope that America is watching Guyana because this is a nation on a serious decline. To know the truth and to imagine the truth are two very different things.

    I have seen how the PPP used the media at taxpayers expense to promote their propaganda while at the same time denying the opposition airtime . Also, the airways has become the playground for the PPP and is flooded with Asian music. This monopoly of the airways has certainly made citizens of Guyana a prisoner of a culture,transported from India.

    Guyana is a multicultural society and our root is inbedded in Guyanese culture. Our foreparents came to Guyana in the 18th century so for those who still believe that culturally we are tied to Africa, India, China and Europe, then they all need to get a lesson in culture.

    One Nation, One Destiny.

    • Cyril Balkaran  On May 12, 2012 at 8:00 am

      History is a record of the past as early as yesterday. The UG was once described by the Finance Minister as Jagan’s night school in the early days of its founding 1960’s. The Young graduate must be aware of the name Prof Hogben of South Africa who was brought in by Jagan to establish the same. Today the graduates must know that history and the struggle to give tertiary education a boost in the land of British Guiana. The Jagdeo Presidency was applauded for granting 11 more permits to individuals for the establishment of more radio broadcasting units. The role of Government is to moniter the use of such liscences and not to meddle in the broadcasts. If the Asian content of the program is heavy in favour of India so be it. Any one can counter that on the airwaves by operating with more Caribbean music like the Bob Marley type which I also love. It is not the Government to do that. That is also multiculturalism in a Plural Guyana of the 21st Century. We must put the record straight as we remember them but we must agree also to disagree. It helps the Democracy to grow and prosper in many ways. No love lost my dear I am not a paid agent of anyone. I am a lover of the Guyanese people and I feel for them in moments of despair. We are all one big Caribbean family. The tainted history of the past must be remembered so that our leaders will not traverse that way ever again. No one must be ashamed of our past but we must acknowledge that we fled the land in droves and herds instead of standing up to the Gestapo at the time of need. Where is the street demonstrations on the 2012 Budget and against the percieved and alleged corruption? You and I can start those street protests also to send the message to our politicians that enough is enough! Thank you for the dialogue. God Bless you and the entire Guyanese nation and our Editor for allowing our indulgences,Have a great day Cyril Byron!

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