Very little space for TV, radio stations in city is not true
– Opposition seems inept on broadcasting matters
Several local broadcasters and political activists are opposed to recent comments by the government that there may be very little space left for more television and radio stations in the city.
Critics are of the belief that this may be far from the truth and does little to mitigate suspicions that the government is trying to hold a reserve of frequencies for its ‘friends’.
General Secretary of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Joseph Harmon, is now making a strong call for Bibi Shadick, Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority, to explain how this situation was allowed to take place.
“When Shadick made these comments I was not surprised. They fit perfectly with the pattern the government has adopted— to steal the country’s resources for friends and cronies. Perhaps, it could be the case that there isn’t anything left for Region Four.
“How could there be when they are giving three and four stations to one man? But she will certainly have to explain this to the National Assembly,” the politician said.
One local with experience in the broadcasting arena said that Harmon is wrong as usual. He said that no one got four or five stations. What has happened is that those who have received multiple frequencies, actually have been allocated a frequency for Georgetown, one for Berbice, one for Essequibo. Those frequencies will be used to form a network.
“But that does not mean that this is right. They should issue one area –Demerara or Berbice or Essequibo at a time; this is the best policy. No further radio or TV networks should be allowed until the broadcast landscape is better mapped out,” the man explained.
The frequencies, said the expert, do not mean several different signals or different stations; they mean that it is the same signal but with different frequencies serving several different areas.
One knowledgeable broadcast critic said that it might be true that there are too many stations operating commercially in Region Four in view of the small advertising marketplace, but if organizations such as religious bodies are going to operate as non commercial operations requiring no advertising, there is no shortage of spectrum.
To prove this point, the broadcast source said that occupied at present in Georgetown, are channels VHF 2,6,7.9,11,13 and in the UHF band CH14 (cable 65), 16 (cable 67), 18 [cable 69] and 46 [cable 102]
“Between channels 18 and 102, there is space for more than 14 TV stations, so saying that no channels for TV are available are fabrications by Shadick and the PPP authority to keep the opposition views from the public, if an election is coming.
In addition the UHF band extends to 900 megahertz (Mhz.) and channel 46 [cable 102] is 661 Megahertz. But in Guyana, for the government to facilitate the cable system of E-Networks, it is allowing the operator to use broadcasting frequencies to carry subscription wireless cable broadcast.
“These frequencies are a national asset for broadcasting and we don’t know what they are charging this cable system to use it,” the expert asserted.
He said that even if there are too many TV stations in Georgetown to make economic sense since the marketplace is so small, Region One certainly suffers from no such constraint. And Region Ten also suffers from no such overstocking of the spectrum.
“But the government continues to deny a licence to Region Ten RDC.”
The broadcast expert is of the opinion that the opposition has no one to blame but itself for these misconceptions being peddled by the government for public consumption.
“There are knowledgeable people in the broadcasting industry who are supporters of the opposition, and if they are not, they are certainly not supporters of the Government…Broadcasting is not just playing a few movies to the air, it’s about freedom of speech and if religious or political bodies want space in the spectrum they should get it.
“ I am still of the opinion that the Broadcasting authority is illegally formed since at the time the Bill was activated in 2012, the PPP had lost its majority in parliament and the opposition would have had to vote the Bill into law. A case currently before the high court seeks to establish this.
“It’s very sad how all of this happened and points to the immaturity of the opposition to function effectively since they have created a barrier between themselves and their knowledgeable supporters,” the critic added.
Harmon reminded that after consulting with the relevant experts, certain amendments were made to the Broadcasting Act and it was subsequently tabled in the National Assembly.
But since the initiation of this process, there has been no word on the progress of the amendments. The perception which followed was that the APNU appears to be “sleeping” on the Bill.
“To date there has been no Bill or motion passed in parliament by the opposition which seeks to overturn the draconian $2.5 million annual fee,” one expert added.
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