Jan 06, 2016 News
By Abena Rockcliffe
The Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) has seemingly begun to accelerate its working pace.
The body is now moving to lower the fee attached to broadcasting.
The Board had set up a subcommittee to look into matters relating to licencing. That committee is referred to as the Legal matters, fees and licencing subcommittee. It is chaired by Veteran Broadcaster, Mr. Anthony Vieira. Other members include Mrs. Ameena Gafoor, Director Mr. Vic Insanally, Director Ms. Abiola Wong-Inniss, Ms. Debra Barrow-Graham and Mr. Michael Forde (Technical Advisor).
Forde and Barrow-Graham are not members of the Authority’s board, but are members of the sub-committee.
The committee was mandated to deliberate on all matters relating to licencing and report to the board.
During a recent interview with Kaieteur News, Vieira informed that the committee has decided to lower the fee. He said that it would have been somewhat premature for him to give the exact figure that the fee has been reduced to, since it is yet to receive final approval and be gazetted.
Vieira was sure however that “broadcasters will be happy with the new fee.”
Currently, broadcasters are mandated to pay two fees – one to the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) and the other to the Authority. Vieira said that broadcasters will no longer have to pay the two fees as there will be just one broadcasting fee.
Further, the committee has decided to set zones. Vieira said that it was always understood that a broadcaster operating in Georgetown will have access to a far bigger market place as compared to a broadcaster operating in Berbice, “So we have decided that we will make Georgetown a primary zone.”
The Chairman indicated that there will now be four zones – Primary, secondary, tertiary and community. Each of these zones will have its own fee attached. The secondary zone will attract a fee half of that of the primary territory, half as much as the secondary, and community half the fee attached to tertiary.
“It is very simple, maybe next year we will get more creative, if necessary. But we have done the same thing for radio; the zones have been set up all the way down to the community level.”
In giving examples of how the zones will be separated, Vieira said that Georgetown will be considered a primary zone and will be the only primary zone. New Amsterdam, Charity and Bartica will be considered secondary zones while Linden and Lethem will be considered tertiary zones and locations like Mahaica will be considered community zones.
Vieira told Kaieteur News, “Unlike the previous regulators, we visualize regulations which are in the public interest. It is not in the interest of anybody to have a station operating in Georgetown which can be seen on South Road but not on North Road, or in Kitty but not in Alberttown. Therefore, when we give a licence we are going to insist—and I have already studied what kind of equipment we will use to determine the pattern of the broadcast—We are going to insist that if we give a licence to Georgetown and its environs, the area must be covered.
Vieira said that that will become part of the licence issued to broadcasters.
“Obviously we are introducing a new system and people will have to apply to become a broadcaster under these new conditions.”
He said, however, that the main concern of the subcommittee, as well as the GNBA, is to serve in the best interest of the public.
“We cannot serve the public’s interest if people have to have all sorts of fancy contraptions to view the channels.”
To ensure maximum efficiency from TV broadcasters, the GNBA will be instructing that all broadcasters operating in primary, secondary and tertiary zones will have to use towers no higher than 300 ft. and must transmit 1000 watts. He said this will go out 30 miles to cover all the people in the permitted area. The stations in the community zones will have to erect towers no higher than 50 ft. so they will reach out five miles out in all directions.
“Obviously, someone living close to the transmitter will need a smaller antenna than a guy living farther away, but we are going to be insisting that the broadcasters seek to distribute the signal according to a plan that we have,” said Vieira.
The Board member said that previous regulators use to be preoccupied with the kind of broadcast equipment that broadcasters have to buy, “but it makes no sense, because people write down all sorts of fancy stuff that they are buying. But then they do not buy any of those things; they go and buy the cheapest piece of junk they can find. We just want to make sure that when we give a licence to a guy within a certain zone, he is broadcasting to all the people living in that zone.
Noting that the “300 ft. tower is a good idea,” Vieira stressed that it is not being put into place just to be difficult, “it is not to give broadcasters a hard time”.
“It is a limitation to avoid interference in broadcasting in New Amsterdam which may interfere with broadcasting in Georgetown somewhere in the middle…maybe at Mahaica.” He said that the stipulations will illuminate all such possibilities of interferences.”
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