Granger snubs concerns of broadcasters, int’l organisations

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By Devina Samaroo  

President David Granger has snubbed the concerns raised by local and global stakeholders regarding the amendments to the country’s broadcasting laws, noting that the changes are necessary to ensure there is no information deficit.

“We have an obligation to ensure that all corners of the country receive public info about what is taking place and if people don’t know what’s going on because the media is not covering certain types of issues, I think there will be an information deficit,” Granger told media operatives Wednesday morning in a quick interview on the sidelines of an event at State House.

Private sector officials and international press freedom advocacy groups have called on the President to defer his assent to the Bill in order to facilitate consultations with private broadcasters about their concerns with the amendments to the legislation.

Operators are worried that the changes will have grave implications on their businesses and that it infringes upon press freedom. The two contentious issues of the Broadcasting Bill are the requirements for broadcasters to air public service content as ambiguously defined by the law for 60 minutes every day for free and for their licences to be terminated with immediate effect, thus forcing them to reapply within 30 days without guarantees of regaining their licence or receiving their same spectrum.

But Granger insisted that “a lot of thought” went into the crafting of the Bill.

“The Cabinet decided to be in support of the Bill and that’s why we went to parliament with it,” the President stated.

He called on the critics to be aware of the peculiar nature of Guyana and the need to ensure that all communities are given access to information.

“I would like to ask the critics of the broadcasting bill to see both side of the picture,” he said, noting that persons in far-flung areas would sometimes be in dire need of updates on security and other emergency matters – and that the private media has a role to play in providing that information.

News Room understands that some private broadcasters are contemplating taking legal action against the State to stop the Broadcasting Bill to come into force.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), the Guyana Press Association (GPA), the International Press Institute (IPI), the Reporters Without Border (RSF) and the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACMW) are some of the entities that have mounted opposition against the changes to the broadcasting legislation. The parliamentary opposition have also rejected the amendments.

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