Ramjattan says elections win represents consultation on Broadcasting Bill
Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan contended that the coalition’s 2015 national elections victory represented consultations with the stakeholders on the Broadcasting Amendment Bill.
“When we were in Opposition, we made it clear that we were going to do that set of amendments, understand that. And because we went to the electorate, we won the elections. Probably that was one the reasons persons voted for us, that they are going to bring the amendments and so we consulted with the electorate,” he asserted during a news conference on Thursday.
Ramjattan argued that the amendments to the broadcasting laws will remain and challenged those who are disgruntled with the changes to seek redress through the court.
“No matter what law is ever passed, there will be some brilliant lawyer or some brilliant litigant who will come and say ‘you know, that thing ain’t really mean that’ or it could be some abusive government that could say ‘that thing ain’t mean that’ and then we will have the judiciary coming to delimit it. That’s the democracy we’re talking about,” Ramjattan stated.
He argued that otherwise, “we will never, never want to pass laws because we’ll get a commentator … who will say that the thing a little too diluted to the extent that government could pass propaganda.”
Furthermore, the Minister of Telecommunications Cathy Hughes assured that party propaganda cannot be disguised as government information under the new legislation.
“The assumption that we are trying to get political propaganda into the airwaves of private sector and not have to pay for it could not be further from the truth,” she explained.
Hughes posited that the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) will serve as the “guardian angel” to ensure political propaganda is not passed off as public service content.
Earlier this week, President David Granger defended the Broadcasting Amendment Bill, contending that it is necessary to prevent an information deficit in the country. Private broadcasters along with local and international organizations have expressed concerns with the changes.
They were worried about the consequences it has for press freedom and the financial implications on the operations. Moreover, the broadcasters were disgruntled that they did not enjoy the courtesy of consultations before the changes were made.