“Do not force the hand of GNBA”

– GNBA Chairman responds to PPP/C General Secretary claims

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority, Leslie Sobers this afternoon categorically refuted false allegations made by General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo.

Sobers has rubbished the PPP/C leader’s claim that the GNBA has sent letters to Freedom Radio, other stations that are sympathetic to the cause of the PPP/C and stations that broadcast advertisements for the political party.

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GNBA Chairman, Leslie Sobers.

“We have not sent out letters to his perceived sympathizers alone, we have sent out letters to several broadcasters who have committed certain infractions,’ the GNBA Chairman underscored.

According to Sobers letters were sent to the following stations: MTV, WRHM, NTN, Hits and Jams, STVS, Scar Communications Incorporated, TVG Incorporated, Radio (RGI), Blackman and Sons, CN Sharma and Freedom Radio.

He further added “… we normally look at infractions on a quarterly basis and the Special Investigative Committee has recently looked at the infractions for the last quarter. The infractions for this quarter will be looked at the appropriate time.”

“So, what happens is that the Special Investigative Committee, which has no power to sanction or impose fines or penalties on these stations will invite them in for discussions to point out to them where the infraction lies and prevent reoccurrences,” he explained.

The Chairman believes that the PPP/C leader “is trying to force the hand of GNBA to take action against Freedom Radio.”  Noting that Freedom Radio alone in the last quarter of 2019, committed 32 infractions – involving vulgarity, bad taste and disparaging remarks, which are all laid out as breaches in the Broadcasting Act.

It was also highlighted that PPP/C General Secretary claimed that he will send the letters from GNBA to the international community. “I want Mr. Jagdeo to understand that we will not be forced into action and he is fully aware of what is required as a broadcaster because he was once a Minister of Information and the Act was assented to by him,” Sobers declared.

Sobers also disclosed that GNBA operates in full autonomy and is cognizant of the importance of freedom of expression.

“Another important factor is that the Special Investigative Committee is not a one-man show. It is chaired by Joel Edmond and has other professionals and independent thinkers such as Attorney-at-law, Ms. Sadie Amin who is also a member of the People Progressive Party. These individuals are fully responsible for the review and determination of infractions.”

The GNBA Head emphasised that broadcast licenses are given with a degree of confidence, reposed in the broadcaster to act within the law and if breached, they can face the Special Investigative Committee  for corrective discussion only. However, when they are called before the Hearing Committee of GNBA, it deals strictly with penalties and the letters will not be dealt with in the hearing committee.

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