Apr 30, 2013 News Comments Off on Chief Justice (ag) orders NFMU to explain why radio licences should not be quashed
The National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) has been ordered by Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang to show cause why its decisions to assign radio frequencies should not be quashed.
The court issued an Order or Rule Nisi of Certiorari directed to the NFMU on the grounds that the decisions to assign the radio frequencies were premised on the unlawful and unconstitutional distribution by then President Bharrat Jagdeo.
The court, in its order, stated that the matter is returnable on May 9. Broadcaster Enrico Woolford sought the orders or writs through his attorneys Senior Counsel Rex McKay and several other attorneys. The NFMU must be served with a copy of the originating Notice of Motion and Affidavit of Support and the sealed and certified copy of the order.
The assignment of frequencies executed by then President Jagdeo a few weeks before he left office has ignited a firestorm of protest, widespread criticism and international comment, particularly after Prime Minister Sam Hinds was forced to disclose in the National Assembly who got which frequencies.
Woolford is asking the High Court to declare that Jagdeo’s granting of radio licences was “arbitrary, unconstitutional, unlawful, unfair, unreasonable, capricious, irrational, procedurally improper, ultra vires, null, void and of no legal effect.”
Attorney General Anil Nandlall is named as a respondent in the case to show why the court should not quash the decision made by Jagdeo.
The second named defendant is Valmiki Singh of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU), the authority which assigns frequencies.
It was recently revealed that Jagdeo, in the very month he was leaving the Office of the President, granted five radio frequencies to his best friend Dr. Ranjisinghi Ramroop; the company which publishes the newspaper of the ruling party; another five frequencies to the ruling party and to Telcor, which has as its directors Ruth Baljit, the sister of Minister Robert Persaud and Kamini Persaud, who is the niece of Jagdeo and wife of Minister Robert Persaud.
One frequency each was granted to seven other companies.
In the proceedings, Woolford claims that Jagdeo had signed an agreement with then Opposition Leader Robert Corbin in May 2003, saying that no broadcast licences would be issued until the new broadcasting legislation came into effect.
However, Jagdeo went ahead and granted those new frequencies almost one year before the Broadcasting Act came into being. The Broadcast Act came into being at the end of August, 2012.
Woolford is claiming that he applied for radio broadcast frequencies in October 1997. However, he claimed he never received a response from the NFMU.
In documents filed in the court, Woolford claimed that the sole and predominant purpose of issuing 15 frequencies to three companies was done to ensure “overcrowding of the radio spectrum” and to ensure that the Broadcast Authority would find it easy to refuse applicants.
Woolford stated that Kaieteur News, Stabroek News and Capitol News have for several years prior to the granting of the licences, criticised the government for human rights violations and breaches of the rule of law The three named media houses applied for FM Radio Broadcasting frequencies but none of them got any.
Another challenge is pending in the court. The second action was brought by National Media and Publishing Company (publishers of Kaieteur News) and the Guyana Media Proprietors Association.
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