Radio licences protests taken to Office of the President

Radio licences protests taken to Office of the President

APRIL 16, 2013 | BY  |  By: Romila Boodram

“…the protest will continue until Ramotar clears the air on this issue,” says Glenn Lall, Publisher of Kaieteur News

Media operatives, backed by concerned supporters, took their protest to the Office of the President yesterday to demand the withdrawal of radio and cable licenses granted under questionable circumstances by former President Bharrat Jagdeo.

The protest was staged to coincide with a scheduled meeting at Office of the President between President Donald Ramotar and members of the Opposition over the proposed budget cuts.

The peaceful protest saw the presence of Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall; Charles Griffith, a Director at the privately-run Hoyte Blackman Television (HBTV) Channel Nine and veteran broadcaster, Enrico Woolford.
Bearing placards, the protestors stood quietly on the parapet on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, opposite the President’s Office. A senior police rank initially demanded that the protestors remove. He even called for “back up” but none ever arrived. 

Instead he received additional barricades.
Mr. Lall said that “the protest continues against the unlawful, illegal and immoral issue of radio and cable license by former President, Bharrat Jagdeo. I believe it was a discriminatory act perpetrated on this nation and it must be corrected.”

He explained that the granting of radio and cable license by the former President to his “buddies” is criminal. “They are already making money from it but what has Guyana got? Nothing! Where will we get money to pay the police; your children and grandchildren will be affected,” Mr. Lall emphasized.

According to the Kaieteur News Publisher, Guyana Times and the Mirror Newspapers were each granted five radio frequencies while Channels Two, Six, Seven, Nine and Thirteen were refused despite being in the business for as long as television has been in Guyana.

Mr. Lall said that cable licences were granted to two of the former President’s close friends, Vishok Persaud and Brian Yong, both of whom he described as “Lil kid.”

He explained with a cable license an individual or company could in fact “give wireless internet, you can have TV stations, radio stations and it can also provide a telephone service. So when you hear Brian Yong, this li’l kid. was granted a license and Vishok (Persaud), this other kid was given a licence, it is not a magic, it was well planned- They are not the owners of this thing.”
“Let us have a level playfield. Let this nation wake up every day and be able to, or given the opportunity to hear different views on various issues. This is what democracy is all about; it is not a one-sided affair,” Lall stressed.

Mr. Glenn Lall believes that the reason for this publication not being granted a radio license was a deliberate act by the former president to have control over the electronic media. “It was an orchestrated plan by Jagdeo to take over the electronic media; they want to control this nation. Their aim is to put us (independent media houses) out of business.”

Meanwhile, Woolford is convinced that the move made by Jagdeo was clearly one in which he rewarded close friends and party supporters. “He (Bharrat Jagdeo) was supposed to act without affection or ill-will but clearly he acted with affection for his people and ill-will against the people he thought were not in his corner.”

“This is about unfairness, lack of transparency and lack of accountability. You cannot as the President, act in such a way that you act with affection for some of your friends. The airwaves is a national resource; it belongs to the people of Guyana. Therefore it must be distributed in a transparent manner and it must be done with accountability,” Woolford stressed.

The Media Proprietors’ Association is embarking on legal action. “Papers will be filed maybe as soon as tomorrow.” The legal team will consist of Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan; Vice Chairman for AFC, Moses Nagamootoo; Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram; Senior Counsel, Rex McKay, and attorney Roysdale Forde

The protest will be continuing today (April 17, 2013).

 

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Comments

  • de castro  On April 17, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Congratulations
    Peaceful protests are very effective….it proves democracy works.
    Politicians of all sides must listen…..
    Politicians must decide.

    The courts can arbitrate only. Power must remain with parliament
    The granting of licences is the function of departments of government.
    Ministry of communication which remain accountable to parliament.
    When governments change …for whatever reasons via ballot….
    senior civil servants remain…accountable to minister appointed
    by government….minister blunders/errs/screws up… him and his
    government becomes de-selected.DEMOCRACY not only in “speech”
    (words) but in Practice (action)

    My spin entirely

    Kamptan

  • Cyril Balkaran  On April 17, 2013 at 10:19 am

    This issue of refusal to grant Radio Liscences to bonafide citizens or Corporation houses can be successfully and legally challenged in the highest court of the land and also in the Caribbean Court of appeal,if necessary. In Trinidad and Tobago Sat Maharaj of the Hindu Maha Sabha applied to the Authorities for a Radio Liscence. The patrick Manning Government refused him and the matter was challenged in the UK where the Privy Council ruled that as a citizen of T&T a case of Discrimination in the granting of a radio liscence was established and the Government was ordered to grant a liscence to Sat Maharaj within 7 days. The Government then complied.
    I had also suggested that all those who applied and were refused by Jagdeo should reapply to the authorities again. May be things will change as public pressures can bring results also. Democracy may mean many things to many people. Let’s see what to courts will decide. The more radio stations in Guyana the more will the communication and air waves be. Recently through some mechanism Chinese were given liscences for Radio and TV facilities to be managed by some pseudo governmental body.
    Grant liscences and set the rules and those who are in breach of the rules will pay the price. Sharma in Guyana who has run foul of Jagdeo had his bit of the rule of law. He paid a price and is back on the Air? Government must always be seen as a facilitator and never as an oppressor. We overs that in Guyana. Let goodwill prevail.

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