Broadcast Bill will support Freedom of Speech- Minister Hughes

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, August 4, 2017

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes in her presentation in House today supporting the Broadcast Amendment Bill, 2017 said that the bill will revolutionise the country in the broadcasting industry.

Minister Hughes noted that the bill will prohibit hate speech, radical comments, and will see commitment from international agencies among other positives.

Minister of Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes.

The Amendment Bill also outlines how broadcasting agencies will air, public service programmes for one hour in every 24hour cycle. Minister Hughes noted that there are insufficient Public Service Announcements (PSAs) in the country.

She made reference to a recent event at the Georgetown Seawall where a young man was pulled from the ocean and persons surrounding him did not know how to perform CPR. Minister Hughes also pointed out that in the 2005 floods there was few PSAs informing citizens how to treat their water for consumption.

The Minster refuted statements from the Opposition that the Private Sector will be affected by the bill. Minister Hughes noted that the Government and her Ministry are currently working with some of the private broadcasters to produce their own PSAs, which can be aired in the one hour.

“Broadcasters out there I know that you are worried, but you don’t have to worry because the government is here to work with you”, Minister Hughes said.

In addressing Freedom of Speech, the Minister listed a number of events when the Opposition prevented Freedom of Speech. These included several bans of CNS Channel Six from the airways, the banning of Journalist Gordon Mosley from the then Office of the President for him expressing displeasure at statements made at a diaspora event in Antigua and the imprisonment of a young man because “he showed a finger” at a Presidential motorcade that was passing on the road.

Minister Hughes highlighted that the Broadcast Bill 2017 will see freedom of speech. Additionally, she identified that under the previous administration the then President issued licenses to his family and friends.

“We need to ensure that there is a system in place that prevents this from happening again”, Minister Hughes said.

The Minister presented to the House examples of requests for licenses were made under the previous administration which were not granted. One such request was from the University of Guyana. Minister Hughes pointed out  that the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority is currently reviewing requests that were not granted licenses.

Minister Hughes continued her presentation by refuting statements made by the Opposition that the bill will stifle, frustrate and intimidate the broadcasters and the people of Guyana.

“I have no hesitation in supporting the passage of the bill”, Minister Hughes concluded.

 

By: Gabriela Patram

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