Emphasizing that one of Guyana’s most valuable assets is its airwaves, Vice Chairman of the Alliance For Change
(AFC), Moses Nagamootoo stated that when his party becomes the next government, it will certainly revisit the allocation of the “bulk” of Guyana’s radio frequencies which he said were gifted by Former President Bharrat Jagdeo to his “loyal minions.”
The AFC Parliamentarian made this statement during a press conference which was held on Thursday at the Georgetown Club.
Nagamootoo was at the time expressing his party’s dissatisfaction with what he termed as “the obsessive control” of the government over the state media. Kaieteur News subsequently asked the Vice Chairman to give his take on the domination of Guyana’s airwaves, against the back drop that the USA is conducting an auction for six blocks of its airwaves with the cost exceeding over US$34B.
To this, Nagamootoo said that the allocations that were made in 2011to certain government cronies by Jagdeo were arbitrary and reflects discrimination.
“I had mentioned before that in India, the frequencies at one time had been auctioned to bidders who paid billions of US dollars. Now in the US, we are seeing billions being spent on the frequencies because it is considered to be a limited or a scarce resource and you couldn’t just hive it off to your friends , family and favourites and discriminate against those who have a track record in media and television,” the Attorney-at-law expressed.
He said that it is not tenable and a new government headed by the AFC will revisit all those allocations. He said that it is something he considers to be a sacred grail and the government’s actions constitutes a violation. Nagamootoo said that this “theft of a national resource” bothers him and that it would be investigated thoroughly.
The AFC he said also condemns the manipulation of the airwaves and found it to be a most reprehensible act.
Asked if he believes that Guyana should also adapt the method of auctioning its airwaves to get the best value, Nagamootoo answered in the negative.
He told this publication that he believes studies should be done first because an auction may not guarantee that it will result in the best use of the invaluable resource.
Nagamootoo also opined that there are other applicants for radio licenses who have not been dealt with on the basis of merit. He stressed that there should be technical studies done to ensure that the best use would be made of the frequency once given rather than just granting it to someone because of presidential favour or financial capacity.
“If I knew someone were a citizen of a foreign country with which we have a problem, a national broadcasting authority would look at that factor and feel that the person would not be qualified for a frequency because they may use it against the country to advocate for the wrong things. So you don’t use an auction to get the best value because the hammer falls on the highest bidder, irrespective of whether the person is democratic or anti-national. Auctioning is not the best mechanism. It’s important but not for me and it should not be ruled out as a mechanism,” the AFC Vice Chairman noted.
Nagamootoo then described Guyana as “a melting pot, a salad bowl” and as such, emphasized that radio frequencies should be used in a manner to promote unity and not incite racial tension.
“We want all cultures to bloom and all ethnicities to flourish and therefore if you allocate the spectrum, you must do so judiciously thinking that you will help to promote the diversity of our cultural strands …it must be seen as a medium to address the wounds and problems affecting the society but the allocation by Jagdeo reflects an exclusion of experience. It’s a serious issue in our country and government’s obsession with domination of the airwaves, state media and even the private media has stifled democracy,” he concluded.
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