NCN denies news anchor taken off air because she’s pregnant; says Sport Editor deserves one-month suspension

Last Updated on Monday, 5 September 2016, 21:13 by Denis Chabrol

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

In the face of a blunt denial that a television news anchor for Guyana’s state-owned National Communications Network (NCN)  was taken off the set because she is pregnant, she has insisted that she was ordered to stop reading the news but later told that she could continue until she proceeds on maternity leave.

“Management wishes to make it publicly known that Natasha Smith was not removed from anchoring because of her expectant condition or marital status, as is erroneously being pedaled,” NCN said in a statement. The state broadcaster assured that it upholds the rights of all its employees in relation to their private lives “and may only be required to address aspects of personal issues if they impede the employee’s performance on the job.”

However, Smith said in a statement that on Monday, August 8, 2016 she was informed unofficially by senior NCN managers that day that at a management meeting had decided that she should be pulled off the air because of her pregnancy. “On Tuesday August 9, I was called to the office of the Editor-in-Chief (EIC), Sharda Lall. She explained to me that I would be relieved of reading the news because quite frankly the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) did not like what he sees when he looks at the news,” said Smith.

Smith said management’s action against her was designed to make her feel ashamed of her unborn child and she has since turned down management’s request for her to continue reading the TV news.

Concerning the one month suspension of Sport Editor, Jocelle Archibald-Hawk without pay because of alleged disparaging remarks she made on Facebook about a colleague who had asked President David Granger a question about Pokemon, the company insisted that it took the right decision to discipline her. “The company wishes to state that due process was followed in arriving at its decision. While the current issue is about disparaging comments made on social media about her colleague’s work and name calling, several other factors and incidents involving Mrs. Archibald-Hawk were considered,” states the NCN.

Jocelle Archibald-Hawk

Jocelle Archibald-Hawk

Executives of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) are scheduled to meet with NCN’s CEO, Lennox Cornette on Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

Archibald-Hawke has been dismissed for “continuously displaying unprofessional and disrespectful behaviour towards your colleagues and for posting on Social Media embargoed content from the programme, Public Interest.

The Sport Editor has been warned that she would be dismissed if she engages in such activities again.

The company charges Archibald-Hawk made defamatory remarks about her colleague, Norman Gobin, about which she admitted, cautioned to discontinue such disrespect and apologise. However, management charged that on August 26, 2016 she issued a disrespectful and unsigned apology to Gobin.

In her defence, Archibald-Hawk challenged the interpretation by NCN’s management that her apology was insincere.