The Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) on Thursday indicated that several television and radio stations were broadcasting illegally and threatened to take legal action which could see operators being fined, imprisoned and their equipment seized.
GNBA Chairman, Leslie Sobers told Demerara Waves Online News that a number of the stations have been on air without licences for years, while others have breached payment agreements with the regulator.
Sobers said the GNBA has since grown weary of waiting on payments. “Mostly, they haven’t paid their licence dues and some of them might have entered into agreements with the authority for offsetting their backlog and they haven’t been honouring it so we couldn’t regard them as compliant and some of them, their licences have expired and they have not sought to renew it [sic] as yet,” he said.
The Authority did not name the stations that were allegedly in breach of the Broadcasting Act. Noticeably absent from the list of “compliant” broadcasters were at least six well-known television stations, two radio stations and at least one cable TV provider.
The others listed, according to the GNBA, are “the only broadcasters authorized to broadcast.” “The Authority wishes to emphasize that those broadcasters not listed are deemed illegal broadcasters,” the regulator said.
Sobers added that “very few” of the stations believed that they had no right to pay licence fees “but they have a right to charge people”.
Sobers could not immediately give an estimated total of the amount in licence fees owed to the GNBA.
The regulating authority threatened to take legal action against the unlisted TV and radio stations, a move that could see stiff penalties being taken against operators. “The GNBA intends to take legal steps within the parameters of the law, against illegal broadcasters.”
According to the Broadcasting Act 2011, Section 43 (C), anyone who carries on a broadcasting service at the licensed location after the licence granted to him has been suspended, cancelled or expired commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of one million dollars and imprisonment for one year and all machinery and equipment used, or which can be used, for broadcasting and owned by or in the possession of the person concerned is liable to be forfeited.
“GNBA urges non-compliant broadcasters to bring themselves in conformity with the law and to honour their obligations to the Authority. GNBA looks forward to broadcasters’ continued cooperation,” the agency said.
The Authority says it plans to put in place a Broadcaster Award System to give recognition to outstanding broadcasters at a gala event. “Those broadcasters will be the recipients of a number of trophies, plaques, monetary rewards, discount in broadcasting fees etc,” the entity said.
The GNBA said the following are licensed cable, radio and television stations:
- Premium Communications Inc.
- E-Networks Inc.
- Infinity Telecommunications Inc.
- Go-Tech Inc.
- Movie Star Inc.
- Northwest Television Inc.
- Freedom Radio Inc.
- Little Rock Radio Inc.
- Pinnacle Com. Inc. – Radio
- Radio Guyana Inc.
- Hits & Jams Entertainment Inc.
- NTN – Radio Inc.
- I Radio Inc.
- CNS Radio Inc.
- News- Talk Guyana Inc.
- Keystone Solutions Inc.
- National Communications Network (NCN)
- National Media and Broadcasting Company Inc.
- Two Brother’s Inc.
- Linden Wireless Communication Network Inc.
- CNS Inc.
- Countryside Broadcasting Inc. Ch 19
- Community Broadcasting Network
- Dave’s Television Ch 8 Inc.
- Little Rock Television Inc. – TV
- Pinnacle Communications Inc. Television
- STVS Ch 4/21 Inc.
- Television Guyana Inc.
- GWTV Channel 2 Inc.
- MTV Inc.
- NTN Inc. – Television
- National Communications Network