Some 14 new radio licences to be granted – GNBA Head

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By Devina Samaroo

Approximately 14 new applicants for radio licences are almost fully compliant with the broadcasting rules and standards and are in line to be granted permission to operate, according to the Head of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA), Leslie Sobers.

Sobers told News Room during a telephone interview on Thursday that a lot of work has commenced since the amendments to the broadcasting law took effect, as broadcasters across the country reapplied and interested entities submitted new applications.

He explained that the Authority received an influx of new applicants but noted that only a few are almost fully compliant. A majority of the new applicants are interested in broadcasting in Georgetown but Sobers stressed that because of limited spectrum space, the frequency will have to be allocated on a “first come first serve basis.”

“We have a little caveat I must issue. The spectrum space is limited. I can’t give all 14 of these people frequencies in Georgetown … of the amount of frequencies I have to give out for the Georgetown area which is the primary zone, only those who would have brought themselves up to ‘full compliant’ will, on a first come and first serve basis, will get their licences,” he explained.

The GNBA Head said there are applicants who are interested in broadcasting in areas such as Lethem, Linden, Essequibo, Mabaruma and New Amsterdam. He noted that, for those who do not get a frequency in Georgetown, they will be offered a space elsewhere.

Further, Sobers said persons operating out of one of the far-flung zones are free to utilize various forms of technology to send signals to Georgetown but they must pay for broadcasting in that zone.

Under the new legislation, broadcasters were forced to reapply for their licences and many were uncertain about getting back their documents to operate or receiving their same spectrum.

But Sobers assured that there will be no change in spectrums unless the decision is made by the broadcaster.

He explained that some frequencies would send signals to various zones across the country and if the broadcaster wishes to maintain their broadcasting reach, then they would have to pay to broadcast in the respective zones. Therefore, if a particular channel sends signals to both Georgetown and Berbice, then the broadcaster would be required to pay to broadcast in each zone.

Sobers explained too that spectrums will not be taken away from broadcasters unless it is not in use.

He emphasised that there is limited spectrum and that the Authority needs to be careful and selective in its distribution. He added that the GNBA cannot assign all spectrums available, as it needs to keep some unallocated for times of emergency.

Sobers said a number of existing broadcasters are also almost fully compliant and should be receiving their licences to operate soon.

Some broadcasters had protested the changes to the broadcasting laws. Freedom Radio Inc., a PPP – owned radio station – has since taken legal steps to challenge the amendments. The matter is scheduled to be heard on November 6.

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