Oct 22, 2015 News
Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang has granted an order clearing the way for local businesswoman, Vidya Lewis, to be issued a Broadcast Licence.
Lewis, the proprietor of Vidya’s Enterprise of Lot 220 South Road, Lacytown, Georgetown, had been embroiled in court battle with the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA), since 2012.
The businesswoman, who is known for broadcasting religious programmes, had taken the Broadcasting Authority to court following its refusal to grant her a licence under the National Broadcasting License Act of 2011.
Chang ordered that the businesswoman is and was at all material times entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms set out in Article 40 of the Constitution and therefore entitled to be issued a Broadcasting Licence.
According to court documents, Lewis had been operating a radio frequency prior to the introduction of the new legislation, but was denied a licence when she was asked to apply to the new authority which came into being in August 2012.
The body had requested that all existing broadcasters reapply and satisfy the requisite criterion for fresh certification under the new laws that were in place.
But according to Lewis, her application was denied without adequate reason, resulting in a contravention of her fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 40, 142 and 146 of the Constitution of Guyana.
In her affidavit, Lewis noted that the GNBA had sent her a correspondence acknowledging receipt of her application.
The applicant was represented by Attorney-at-Law, Abiola Wong-Inniss.
According to court documents, Violet Boyal, Administrative Manager of the GNBA, through her Attorney, Sase Gunraj, had argued that pursuant to the Broadcast Act, Act No. 17 of 2011, the authority is not in receipt of any application from Lewis.
She claimed, therefore, the authority was unable to respond or grant any licence to Lewis.
Boyal further described the motion as without merit and misconceived. She called on the court to dismiss same with substantial costs to the Authority.
Boyal and the Attorney General were named as respondents in the case.
The radio licences issue has been a burning one for the nation since it was revealed that former President Bharrat Jagdeo during his final days in office in 2011, gifted several licences to close friends of the party.
The beneficiaries of radio licences included the sister of former Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud. Five were given also to the publisher of The Mirror, the PPP newspaper. Indeed, his close friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, was the beneficiary of five frequencies.
But independent media entities which had applied, were sidelined, and were requested to submit fresh applications.
This resulted in widespread condemnation of the allocations as several media houses, including Kaieteur News, Stabroek News, Capitol News, CNS 6 and HBTV 9, were all overlooked by Jagdeo.
There had been days of protests by the media houses whose applications were not considered by Jagdeo. Members of the international community and Diplomatic Corps also condemned the actions of the former Head of State.
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