Government has denied that it pressured CNS Channel 6 owner, Chandra Narine (CN) Sharma to pull the plug on a weekly show hosted by government critics, Christopher Ram and Ramon Gaskin.
A statement late Tuesday night from the Office of the President distanced itself from the decision by Sharma and said it may have been an attempt by the businessman to get into government’s good books. Government, the statement noted, is currently considering his “many infringements of the law”.
“The government is utterly rejecting media claims by CNS Channel 6 Sharma that he has been and is being harassed and pressured by Government officials to stop airing specific programmes on CNS Channel 6, particularly, Christopher Ram’s “Keeping them Honest.”
On Monday, Gaskin claimed that from information provided by the station’s owner and his wife, Savitri, he was convinced that President Bharrat Jagdeo was behind the decision to pull the 15-week programme.
Office of the President said that the these claims surfaced in the media at the same time that reports were made of Sharma’s correspondence to the host of ‘Keeping them Honest’, Christopher Ram that the station was no longer willing to air the programme.
“The Office of the President reiterates that at no time did any government official approach CNS Channel 6 Sharma on removing any of the weekly broadcast “Keeping Them Honest’’ from his channel.”
It was pointed out that Sharma has been again cited by the ACB and his breaches of provisions of broadcast legislation have been drawn to the attention of the Minister of Information, President Bharrat Jagdeo, for subsequent action.
“It is tempting to believe that CNS Channel 6 Sharma made the decision not to air the programme, “Keeping them Honest”, any longer in an attempt to curry-favour with the authorities who are currently examining his many infringements of the law.
“His concurrent public claims of pressure and harassment would then represent an ingenious effort to rationalise and defend his action.”
The station, a few years ago, was closed for a month after a woman during a call-in programme had made what authorities viewed as shooting threats against President Bharrat Jagdeo.
It was then closed for four months after he aired footage showing government officials partying during the 2005 floods. The footage was later deemed as mischievous and not true.
Recently, the ACB recommended a six-month closure of the station after statements by government critic and former Parliamentarian, Anthony Vieira against Juan Edghill, Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission, during a programme were aired.
Sharma and his wife, Savitri, were summoned before the President recently for a meeting, the outcome of which is still pending.
Ram and his co-host, Ramon Gaskin, on Monday claimed that the administration was using this threat of closure to silence the channel.
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