Jagdeo denies one-year suspension for Sharma TV
…as mystery document surfaces
Embattled manager of CNS TV Channel 6 Chandra Narine Sharma was last night consulting with his attorneys after receiving a document indicating that his broadcast licence was being suspended for a year with immediate effect, and that failure to comply could lead to him losing his licence.
But President Bharrat Jagdeo is equally adamant that the document about Sharma’s suspension did not emanate from the Office of the
President, and suggested that it was being circulated by elements bent on mischief.
The unsigned, five-page document was accompanied by a letter from Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon, requesting that Sharma meet with President Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday (September 30) in the President’s capacity as Minister of Information.
Luncheon’s letter indicated that the meeting would focus on CNS TV’s broadcast of a commentary made by Anthony Vieira on the station on May 4, 2011.
Sharma told journalists that he received the documents at around 19:00 yesterday, at a time when he would have found it difficult to contact any government official to verify the authenticity of the five-page document. However, he said that the letter, which had the office of the President letterhead and was signed by Dr. Luncheon, appeared to be genuine. According to Sharma, the letter with Dr. Luncheon’s signature was attached to the document about his one-year suspension.
However, CNS Channel 6 was still on the air at press time, and Sharma has said that he could not comply with the unsigned document until he can verify its authenticity when he meets with President Jagdeo on Friday.
Asked if he would resist suspension of his licence, Sharma stated that “the last time I refused to close they bring out the army. They surround the building with machine guns and high-powered rifles, like if I fight a war. What wrong have I done?”
He said that such a closure would not only affect his staff, but would also affect the political parties which have been advertising on his station.
“Mr. Granger, Mr. Ramjattan, all of them do programmes here.”
But in a brief interview with Kaieteur News late last night, President Bharrat Jagdeo categorically stated that the only document that was sent to Mr. Sharma from the Office of the President was a one-page letter inviting Sharma to a meeting.
According to President Jagdeo, he is still to make a decision on the issue pertaining to Mr. Sharma.
The President emphatically asserted that any other correspondence that Sharma received did not come from the Office of the President, and could only be designed to create mischief.
The document sent to Sharma indicated that it was sent by “The Minister of Information” and concerned the May 4, 2011 breach of licence during the Vieira commentary. It also outlined other alleged transgressions by CNS Channel Six.
“With respect to the most recent contretemps, at your meeting with H.E. on June 2011, at the office of the President, both CN Sharma and Savitri Singh Sharma will recall that they accepted responsibility for the telecast of the offending material, asserting as their only excuse that it is human to err,” the document said.
“Significantly, both also conceded that the contents of the commentary were not in good taste, incited racial hatred, and could have led to public disorder. This admission was compounded by the admission by Savitri Singh Sharma that she had failed to exercise the requisite care and attention as required by their licence.”
The document stated that in her plea to the President, “she offered to ensure that CN Sharma would be excluded from any other relationship with CNS 6 TV. H.E explained to them that the meeting had nothing to do with CN Sharma personally, or as a leader of a political party. His responsibility included the welfare of the public generally, and the peace and the stability of the country—this was his primary concern.”
According to the document, “it was noteworthy that the licensee on many of the previous occasions, recurrently claimed ignorance of the fact and non compliance of rules by their employees for the breaches. The licensees repeatedly offered apologies.”
According to the document, CNS, in airing the commentary, had contravened regulation 23 A, of the Guyana Postal and Telegraph Act, Chapter 47:01, laws of Guyana.
It added that, “My review noted correspondence of May 13, 2011 from your attorney disclosing that the airing of the commentary …was inadvertent. In that correspondence, your attorney further disclosed the public airing of your apologies extended to the aggrieved complainant.
“My review also noted your correspondence of June 13, 2011, addressed to me, (the President’s name), in which you provided, inter alia, the following explanation for the airing by CNS Channel 6 of the commentary.
On April 27, 2011, we received one DVD containing two commentaries by Mr. Vieira, which, in keeping with policy and procedure of Channel 6, were reviewed by the supervisory staff. Having done so, we determined that one of the commentaries should not be aired and issued an instruction to that effect.
However, because of an operator’s error, the instruction was not complied with and the offending commentary was inadvertently aired.
“My review has further established recurrent infringement of your license, and the broadcast legislation…on the basis of the review and specific regard of the May 27th, 2011 recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting…I now advise you that I have decided to impose a one year suspension of CNS Channel 6 licence with immediate effect, failure to comply with which would lead to revocation,” the document concluded.
Meanwhile, the letter signed by Dr. Luncheon noted that Sharma had met with President Jagdeo and the Attorney General on the Vieira commentary.
“You are aware that the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting tendered advice to the President after considering these complaints. I now write to invite you to meet His Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo in his capacity as Minister of Information on Friday, 30th September, 2011 at 3 pm. in the Office of the President.”