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Nagamootoo dodges questions on amendments to Broadcasting Bill

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Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo this afternoon dodged questions on the government’s intentions regarding proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Bill.

“No comments,” is all the Prime Minister offered. A group of broadcasters had written Mr Nagamootoo, saying the amendments would have “serious implications for the sustainability” of their operations, and to some extent infringe their freedom to determine broadcast content.

The Guyana Press Association (GPA) on Wednesday issued a statement supporting the broadcasters, saying that it was seeking legal advice “to convince the government of the need to halt or reverse this process given the severe consequences these amendments pose to freedom of the press in Guyana and the commercial viability of private radio and television stations.”

The broadcasters had also urged deferral of the second reading of the Bill at today’s session of the National Assembly. Mr Nagamootoo would not say whether he had received the letter from the broadcasters.

The GPA noted that the amendments essentially introduce an unwarranted “programme manager” position by the State in the daily schedules of radio and television stations.

“The overall provision for the allocation of 60 minutes for public service programmes will disrupt and violate contractual obligations that stations will have with advertisers and programme sponsors,” the GPA stated.

The Association said it was understandable that private broadcasters should play roles during emergencies and disasters including matters of public health, but the GPA opposed the actual allocation of times or the need to inform the authority about this or for the authority to dictate time slots if it does not agree with those allocated by the stations.

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