US govt wants fair and transparent allocation of radio licenses

US govt wants fair and transparent allocation of radio licenses

Written by Denis Scott Chabrol – Demerara Waves

US Ambassador to Guyana Brendt Hardt at the lectern. Others are (L to R) President of the Guyana Press Association, Gordon Moseley; Mrs Hardt and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.

US Ambassador to Guyana Brendt Hardt at the lectern. Others are (L to R) President of the Guyana Press Association, Gordon Moseley; Mrs Hardt and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.

Thursday, 02 May 2013 23:11

US Ambassador to Guyana Brendt Hardt at the lectern. Others are (L to R) President of the Guyana Press Association, Gordon Moseley; Mrs Hardt and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.

The United States (US) on Thursday May 2, 2013 called on the Guyana to ensure that radio licenses are granted fairly and transparently, but Attorney General Anil Nandlall signalled that the process might have been flawed.        

“It is now time for the (Broadcast) Authority to do its work- to promptly review and approve qualified applicants including many long established media houses whose applications in various forms have been pending since the late 1990s,” American Ambassador to Guyana, Brendt Hardt told a reception at his residence in honour of World Press Freedom Day 2013. The global theme of the 20th celebration is “Safe to Speak, Promoting Freedom of Expression in all Media.”

Nandlall said evidence shows that the process used to grant 10 “permissions” for persons and companies to operate radio stations resulted in good geographic spread and multi-ethnic composition of the recipients.

The Attorney General signalled that the then Bharrat Jagdeo administration might have not vfollowed the correct procedures. “Significantly, from the evidence that I have seen these applications were all reviewed and decisions have been made. Perhaps, the right methodology was not employed but those are matters that will come out in the court proceedings and hopefully will put that issue to rest,”

The issue is currently before the High Court which has ordered the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) to show cause why several of the licenses should not be withdrawn.

Hardt called for the opening up of radio- an integral part of the public square in the Caribbean, saying it will do much more to generate a more inclusive, participatory public dialogue on issues of the day for the people of Guyana. “While new radio licenses are welcome, the process by which such licenses are issued must be fair and transparent,” he added.

Referring to positions taken by the International Press Institute (IPI), the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) and the Guyana Press Association (GPA), the US envoy said their sentiments were that “Guyana has a solid foundation of press freedom, but can take further steps, particularly in opening the radio airwaves in a fair and transparent manner based on consistent and clearly defined criteria for approval of licenses.”

Media proprietors Enrico Woolford and Glen Lall have challenged the granting of 15 radio licenses by then President Bharrat Jagdeo to his close friends and members of the governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).

The Attorney General highlighted that the opening of two newspapers and granting of 20 television station licenses was testimony that press freedom was alive in Guyana. “For those who charge that we are not committed to freedom of expression, the evidence is before you,” said Nandlall.

GPA President, Gordon Moseley called the handing out of licenses by the Jagdeo administration and the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) “unfair and surreptitious”

He called for licenses to be granted fairly to ensure proper decision-making rather than in a manner that crowds out ideas in this multicultural and multiparty society.

“We would hope that good sense, justice and fair play will prevail and issues surrounding these (frequency) assignments will be finally investigated and corrected under the terms and conditions that created the moratorium and within the constitution and laws of Guyana,” he added.

The licenses include Jagdeo’s close friend Dr. Ranjisinghi Ramroop; PPP legislator, Dharamkumar Seeraj and several persons associated directly and indirectly with Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud. Wireless cable licenses have been also issued to entities associated with Brian Young, a PPP campaigner, and Vishok Persaud a son of late PPP executive member, Reepu Daman Persaud.

Radio Guyana Inc; which is associated with Dr. Ranjisingjhi Ramroop a close friend of Jagdeo, has been issued with radio frequency licenses by the NFMU for 89.3 ; 89.5; 89.7; 106.9 and 107.3. Telcor and Cultural Broadcasting has been granted frequency licenses for 89.7 ; 90.1 ; 91.56 ; 104.9 and 103.3. New Guyana Company Limited has gotten 91.1; 90.7; 90.5; 105.9 and 105.3. The contact person for Telcor is Omar Lochan, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. Lochan is also the husband of Jaya Manickchand, sister of Education Minister, Priya Manickchand. That entity’s directors are Kamini Persaud-a niece of Jagdeo and wife of Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud- and Ruth Baljit his sister.

One frequency each has been granted to NTN Radio, Rudolph Grant, Wireless Connections, Hits and Jams Entertainment, Alfro Alphonso and Sons Enterprise, Haslyn Graham and Little Rock Television.
The NFMU has also issued licenses to E-Networks Inc. and Quark Communications Inc. to broadcast in the 2.5 gigahertz band.Quark Communications is owned by “best friend” Yong and E-Networks by Vishok Persaud, the son of Reepu Daman Persaud-late PPP parliamentarian and advisor to then President Jagdeo.The list of licensees only became public on March 14, 2013 when Prime Minister Samuel Hinds responded to a question by Alliance For Change (AFC) parliamentarian, Cathy Hughes

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Comments

  • Cliff.  On May 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    How the US got into this?

  • Cyril Balkaran  On May 6, 2013 at 11:06 am

    The US Ambassador is meddling in the internal affairs of the Guyana Governm,ent and he must be told that. President Ramoutar is not President Chavez of Venezuela and so he will not declare him Persona Non Grata but he should mind his business. In the diplomatic world this active intereference in the political affairs of a soverign nation tantamounts to war. The CIA and the Kennedy administration burnt down Georgetown in 1962. Why are they now so concerned who get a radio and TV Liscence. This is the calling of the present Ramotar administration!

  • Ron. Persaud  On May 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”. Voltaire
    I listen to the radio a lot. I regularly listen to commentaries which I know will differ from my own opinions. Because I think for myself.
    The irony is that I learned to do so as a Guyanese – living in Guyana for the first forty years of my life.
    Propaganda, indoctrination, control of the radio and newspapers and the one-on-one observations by that started with “Comrade? You need to rethink……”
    It was a superb learning experience and I learned to pick peas out the other stuff…. and I am better off for it.

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