Apr 23, 2009 News
Although Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang ordered that the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) speedily grant broadcast licences to those who want to broadcast in Linden and Region Ten, some persons are still waiting for the licences to be granted to them.
This is according to Regional Chairman of Region Ten, Mortimer Mingo, who told the media yesterday that he has received a number of enquires from persons living in the Diaspora who have expressed an interest in investing in the much needed radio and television facilities in Linden.
Last December, Chang ruled that the rights of citizens under Article 146 of the Constitution cannot be reduced based on an agreement made between President Bharrat Jagdeo, and the Leader of the Opposition, Robert Corbin. The two had agreed that no new licence would be granted unless broadcast legislation is enacted.
Lindeners Norman Chapman and Mortimer Yearwood had moved to the High Court prior to the 2006 general elections, claiming that their fundamental rights were being breached by their not being able to have radio or TV broadcasts other than from state-owned radio and TV.
Yearwood had applied to the NFMU for a TV and radio licence because of the obvious need in Linden for an extension in electronic media services.
However, in response to his application, the Managing Director of the NFMU, Valmiki Singh, informed him that his application would be placed on file and would come up for consideration at such point as sufficient progress had been made with respect to the enactment of broadcast legislation and in the area of the reform and modernisation of the telecommunications sector.
The Chief Justice ruled that to deny the granting of new licences under the claims by the NFMU was a violation of Article 146 of the Constitution, which states that “No person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.”
Singh had said that both the legislation and the telecommunications modernisation project would set out guidelines for the granting of licenses, including details such as frequencies and channels to be assigned, geographical locations, power of transmitters, and the broadcasting standards to be used.
Singh had noted that failure to resolve these matters before the issue of new licences could result in serious technical difficulties and inefficient usage of the electromagnetic spectrum.
However, shortly after this, President Bharrat Jagdeo had stated that the recent ruling as it relates to the issuance of television licences to Norman Chapman and Mortimer Yearwood would be challenged. To date, that has not been done.
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