Oct 19, 2013 News
Nine licences, including two each for cable TV and radios, were yesterday distributed by Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA).
At the offices of the National Frequency and Management Unit (NMFU) yesterday, officials announced that E-Networks and Atlantic Cable Atlantic TV Network were the two companies now with licences. The two radio stations are Telcor Broadcasting and Radio Guyana Inc.
Five television broadcasting licences have also been prepared including a licence for CNS Channel 6; Multi-Technology Vision (MTV) Channel 65; Pinnacle Communications Inc; GWTV Channel 2 and Television Guyana Inc.
The accompanying licences to use certain frequencies were also handed over with head of the National Frequency and Management Unit present.
According to Chairperson of GNBA’s Board of Directors, Bibi Shadick, the nine entities were among operators who complied and submitted all the required documents.
Several other radio and TV operators who have not complied have until the end of this month to submit required paperwork. Late last month, the board sent letters to the broadcasters who have over the past months been engaged in meetings to regularise under new regulations.
Warning letters have been sent to NCN Channel 11; NTN Channel 18/Cable 69; STVS Channel 2; the government-owned Guyana Learning Channel; RBS Channel 13; WRHM; TTS of Bartica and the New Guyana Company. There is still time for these to regularize, Shadick said yesterday.
The licences have been ready for some time now but under regulations, have to be published in the National Gazette. This will be done today.
Not all the broadcasters had representatives to collect the licences yesterday which, according to Shadick, have to be posted prominently in the place of business.
Yesterday’s event would be a significant one for the GNBA as it would be the first set of licences to be granted since that body was established last year. While the Board has been working, the authority is still to become fully operational.
The issue of broadcasting licences has been a thorny one in the side of Government. In the early 2000s the Administration and the Opposition, under Desmond Hoyte, had agreed for no new TV and radio licences to be issued until new regulations have been passed and an authority established to oversee the process of licensing.
However, in late 2011, days before he stepped down from power, former President Bharrat Jagdeo broke the agreement and distributed 11 radio licences to mainly friends and close party members.
Several prominent media houses were sidelined, including Kaieteur News, Stabroek News and Capitol News.
There were several protests after it was discovered that some of the radio licences went to the New Guyana Company which publishes the ruling party’s newspaper; to Dr. Ranjisinghi Ramroop, a close friend of Jagdeo; to Telcor, a company owned by the overseas-based sister of Minister Robert Persaud; and to Wireless Connections, a company facing financial problems.
Earlier this year, GNBA asked for current broadcasters to submit fresh applications as part of the regularization process for broadcasting.
Broadcasters, under new arrangements, have to pay at least $2.5M fee or three per cent of their gross revenues for the previous year.
The Opposition has called for the scrapping of the licences.
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