The new licensing fee imposed on radio and television broadcasters was deliberately calculated by the administration to run some operators out of business, said A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament, Joseph Harmon.
Harmon told this publication that the $2.5M licensing fee was imposed on the operators even after the various media houses would have submitted their financial statements.
According to Harmon, even after seeing that the operators could not sustain paying such an excessive fee, it was still imposed.
Harmon said that his party will amend the existing Broadcasting Act. The proposed amendments will be submitted to Parliament in the coming week in order to facilitate a debate and vote, he added.
He said that the amendments will deal primarily with the composition of the Board of Directors on the Guyana National Broadcast Authority (GNBA) as well as its power to issue licences and to arbitrarily impose fees.
According to the renewed fees to be paid, each operator is expected to pay a minimum $2.5M or three per cent of its gross earnings per year, whichever is larger.
Harmon said that at present some of the operators have even had to approach banks for loans in order to make the first payment so that they can continue broadcasting.
He said that the operators will not be able to sustain payments and suggested that in order to make future payments the operators may very well have to increase the fees they charge for services rendered.
Such a move would inevitably reduce the clientele, according to Harmon and would essentially force certain operators out of business.
It was the Cabinet that took the decision and calculated the thousand-fold increase in the licence fee. Harmon had previously suggested that such a course of action makes GNBA less independent and autonomous than it was intended to be.
Earlier this year Chairperson of the Broadcasting Authority, Bibi Shadick, announced that a number of broadcasters have been granted approval by the GNBA to continue with their operations with others granted more time to make their applications and provide additional documents.
That extension of time expires today.
At the time she had announced that the increase was set by Cabinet.
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