Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo’s statement that he wants the people of the nation to have access to information has been described as deceptive. Observers are pointing to the fact that Guyana is the only country in this hemisphere that has only one radio station.
To compound the situation further is the fact that this radio station is controlled by the State.
In Antigua where the population of that country is 66,500 or the equivalent of just a ward in Georgetown, they have six radio stations.
St Vincent whose population is 116, 000 the equivalent of Sophia and Turkeyen combined, they have three radio stations.
In St Lucia there are two radios stations operated in a population of 159, 000.
In Barbados and Belize whose population combined still does not come close to that of Guyana there are 14 and 11 radio stations respectively. Trinidad and Jamaica have 21 and 10 radio stations.
As it relates to television, while there are several private television stations in Guyana there has been a halt in the issuing of new licenses as well as the fact that the existing ones.
The state controlled National Communications Network had the widest coverage in Guyana and places such as Linden have been trying for years to get access to alternatives to no avail.
Government is on record as saying that the issuance of radio broadcast licence in light of the recent ruling of Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, will still hinge on the passage of the Broadcast Legislation which according to the government will provide the necessary framework under which licensing can be done transparently and without caprice.
According to the government, the administration is certain that demonopolisation of the sector by granting licences cannot be properly done without the resort to a statutory framework.
“It is the Administration’s considered view that liberalisation in the absence of such a framework could invite a repetition of the well publicised television licensing debacle and its associated disorder….
“In that regard, the administration notes that its concerns were repeatedly expressed about the likely impact of the lack of such a framework on any licensing exercise.”
These concerns, according to the administration, led to the undertaking of the enactment of broadcast legislation.
“The Administration has advised that Broadcast Legislation is on its priority list and will be tabled in Parliament during this session of Parliament.” The life of Parliament is almost up to prepare for elections and the Government has reneged on several deadlines for the tabling and passage of that Bill as well as the Freedom of Information Act.
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