Oct 02, 2011 News
– asks people with free laptops to log on
CNS Channel Six owner Chandra Narine Sharma says that he will continue his work through his website and hopes that poor Guyanese families, to whom he has sought to give a voice, will log on once they get the free Government laptops.
Sharma has been ordered off the air from midnight tonight. His licence has been suspended for four months on the orders of President Bharrat Jagdeo owing to comments made on a programme broadcast on Channel Six on May 4.
Speaking on his last Voice of the People programme before the suspension takes effect, Sharma said that the suspension was timed with the elections, but that he will use his website to carry out his work. He wants persons with access to the internet to go online.
These would include people who will receive free Government laptops under the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) project and who will be afforded internet connectivity.
The government intends to begin distributing 27,000 laptops this month under the first phase of the OLPF.
Sharma leads the Justice for All Party (JFAP) and has used the television station to spread his messages. The suspension is also damaging to other opposition political parties that have sought to capitalize on the reach of CNS 6 to get their messages out.
He has sought to extend the reach of his TV station to areas such as Linden, but has been denied the necessary Government permits for years now.
Presidential Candidate of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, noted that Sharma has one of the widest reaches among television stations which the party can access, given that it has been denied air time on the state-owned NCN.
“This is obscene,” Ramjattan said, “and this describes the manner of the man our president is.”
Ramjattan said that the imposition of sanctions on Sharma was delayed to ensure that the station would be taken off the air during the elections season. General and regional elections are constitutionally due by December 28.
Sharma said that since news of the suspension spread he has received thousands of calls from both in Guyana and overseas. He hopes those persons who have expressed solidarity will be among those who will follow him on the internet.
On the very popular Voice of the People programme, Sharma said that his 30-off staff will be out of a job, and particularly in the run up to the Christmas season.
He described his station as being ‘like Parliament’ where the poor and ordinary people could have expressed their grievances.
The suspension came on the advice given to the President by the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting regarding a commentary by Anthony Vieira against Bishop Juan Edghill. Jagdeo had said that the comments by Vieira were intended to sow discord among Christian denominations when Vieira suggested that there were problems between Protestants and Catholics and the Bishop was doing nothing to safeguard Catholics.
The ACB had originally recommended an eight-month suspension, Sharma said, but Jagdeo said he was being “lenient” by cutting the recommended suspension time in half.
Sharma said the President told him and his wife that they were responsible for the suspension since they knew of the contents of the offending programme, but was only suspending the station’s license for a month given consideration to their financial obligations.
The government has contended that CNS, in airing the commentary, had contravened regulation 23 A, of the Guyana Postal and Telegraph Act, Chapter 47:01, laws of Guyana.
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) said the decision by President Jagdeo to suspend Sharma is intended to silence this station in the run up to elections to contain its exposure of injustices and prevent the opposition from getting their messages out.
The GTUC said that it is no accident that President Jagdeo made himself Minister of Information.
“For he thinks he has immunity to violate the sacred right to freedom of expression by abusing Article 182 Constitution which grants the president protection from civil and criminal prosecution for acts committed during the stewardship in office when in fact he is violating his Oath of Office to serve the people, respect their rights and uphold the law without fear, favour or ill will,” the GTUC stated.
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