The government has refused to bow to suggestions that President Bharrat Jagdeo’s meeting with Channel Six owner, C.N. Sharma, represents a conflict of interest given the Office of the President’s continued attacks against the station.
Yesterday, Head of the President Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon said that the President’s Monday meeting is well within the ambit of regulations establishing the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting and is also covered in the licence under which Sharma operates.
Sharma and his wife, Savitri Singh, met with Jagdeo to offer a “suitable explanation” for his broadcast of a commentary by former PNC Parliamentarian, Anthony Vieira.
The meeting was in response to a letter from Office of the President informing C.N. Sharma and Savitri Singh of the need to report to President Jagdeo, failing which his television licence could be suspended or revoked.
The matter had engaged the attention of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting but a High Court ruling has negated any involvement of the ACB in any matter.
According to Sharma, he gave his side of the story and a decision is expected to be made at a later date.
The television station owner had moved to the High Court and had secured three injunctions blocking the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting from making any recommendations for the station’s television licence to be suspended.
Justice James Bovell-Drakes granted the pre-emptive injunction after the petition was put forward by the lawyer, Nigel Hughes.
Kaieteur News understands that the ACB had determined that Sharma’s licence should be suspended for six months after the station had aired a commentary by Anthony Vieira which made some damning allegations against Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission, Bishop Juan Edghill, last month.
The television station owner had apologised, but Edghill, nevertheless, filed a motion against both Sharma and Vieira seeking more than $50M in damages.
The commentary was aired on another television station but there has been no move to sanction that station as is the case with Mr Sharma.
Yesterday, Dr Luncheon said that any reference to another television station is irrelevant. He said that if perchance there is a report against the other station then attention could focus on that station.
Sharma’s television station was shut down twice over the years, for various reasons.
In 2008, Sharma was taken off the air for four months despite apologising for allowing to be aired repeatedly a threat by a caller on his Voice of the People to “kill Jagdeo.”
On June 1, the Office of the President said Sharma “has been increasingly an offender of the law” and said CN Sharma’s apologies in the current matter “clearly reveal evidence of recidivism.”
In 2008, the Guyana Press Association urged Jagdeo to relinquish his position of Information Minister because of the apparent constitutional complications associated with litigation against the President.
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