Chairperson of the Board of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) Bibi Shaddick says the agency cannot revoke licences without cause as the controversy over licences issued by former president Bharrat Jagdeo shows no sign of abating.
The former government minister and current MP took the opportunity Monday night during her presentation on the budget debate to address the topical issue.
Jagdeo’s awarding of licences to a number of persons before demitting office – including individuals who are close friends and relatives of officials within the ruling PPP/C – has come in for heavy criticism over the last two months with calls for the licences to be reviewed by the GNBA.
“Never, however, have I heard that there’s one broadcasting entity, not a company an individual, which was issued not one but two licences to broadcast by television in Guyana and those licences were granted long before 1992.
The PPP/Civic is not accusing the people who are were in government prior to 1992 of cronyism or giving frequencies to people,” Shaddick told the House.
She added that the entity was yet to submit the proper documentation in compliance with the new Broadcasting Act as was requested of all broadcasters.
“But the Board of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority understands that the new law and the new regulations are new and so we are prepared to work with these people and as long as there’s compliance licences will be issued to that entity for both stations because once a licence has been issued it cannot be revoked except for cause and to this date we haven’t found any cause.”
Turning her attention to the radio licences issued by Jagdeo Shaddick said all of them had to reapply under the Broadcasting Act.
“There have been no exceptions and no exceptions have been made. Among continuing broadcasters would have been those entities that were granted licences to broadcast by radio in 2011. There were 10 and now added to NCN there are now 11 and I think that effectively breaks the monopoly on radio,” the official said.
Earlier in the day Shaddick had refuted a report that the agency was to withdraw radio frequencies held by persons issued licences in 2011.
According to the Inews report, they were told that “the aim is not to take back any licenses but to reduce the radio frequencies allocated to a number of operators including New Guyana Company; Telecor & Cultural Broadcast Inc. and Radio Guyana Company.”
Speaking to reporters during a break in the budget debates Shaddick said she had no idea where the report came from since the Authority was not yet in place.
“First of all there’s no Broadcasting Authority yet, it hasn’t been set up. What there is is a government board of the Guyana Broadcast Authority and as to some report that is making the airwaves I have no knowledge of that and I have no further comment,” she stated briefly.
In her address Monday night she reiterated her position.
“The Board of the Guyana National Broadcast Authority has never discussed revocation of any licences, is not authorised to revoke any licence by law except for cause and no such cause has been brought to us.”