Jul 24, 2016 News
The Board of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) is in serious trouble. So deep-rooted is the discord between two key members of the Board that its performance is being affected and critical work is stalled.
It was in April that the GNBA held its first press conference. That was eight months after the Board was appointed.
At that press conference, the Board laid out the glorious plans for the broadcasting industry in Guyana. These plans are to be of major benefit to broadcasters and consumers alike.
The Board even said that it would have updated the media within three weeks after the press conference about its decision on how to tackle the existence of illegal radio broadcasters. This would have been with regard to those who were illegally granted licences by former President Bharrat Jagdeo days before he left Office.
There has been no other press conference since April and none of the plans outlined have actually materialized. The only communication that the Board had with the media was about promises that those plans “would soon come on stream.”
Early last month, GNBA Chairman, Leonard Craig, said that the Board was reviewing the draft regulations it recently received from the Attorney General’s Chamber.
Those regulations, he said, will force all existing holders of Broadcast licences to reapply. This is to be done so that the licences can become compatible with the new regulations.
Craig said that when the review is completed, the regulations will be sent to Cabinet for “general approval.” It will then be gazetted and laid before the National Assembly.
The Chairman said, “I do not think that the remainder of the process will exceed two to three weeks.”
Over a month later, the regulations are still before the Legal Matters and Fees committee—a sub-committee of the Board. The Members of that subcommittee are Anthony Vieira, Vic Insanally and Abiola Wong-Inniss.
Craig was contacted early last week on this matter. He said that the regulations were yet to go to Cabinet. He noted that there was a “holdup.” However, the Chairman failed to state what the “holdup” was.
He said that he was busy and suggested that the newspaper contact him at a more convenient time. Efforts to contact him have proved futile.
Further queries revealed that it is not an ordinary “holdup” and that this “holdup” as Craig puts it, is nothing that may be resolved soon.
The GNBA Board has six members, Craig, Vieira, Insanally, Jocelyn Josiah, Wong-Inniss and Ameena Gafoor. The entire Board meets once a month but the subcommittee meets as often as needed.
The Board had two recent meetings. The last meeting was not the usual monthly meeting. That was one to address the shortlisted candidates to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority.
Vieira did not attend that meeting. That was reportedly because he “staged a protest,” at the meeting before. “We haven’t seen him since; I am not sure what to make of that,” said one member who, like other members, spoke on the grounds of anonymity.
The member said that Vieira is convinced that Craig is less than competent to be the Chairman of the Board.
Vieira even wrote a letter to Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, at one point expressing zero confidence in Craig’s ability to lead the board on any issue related to broadcasting. He told the First Vice President that he would step down as a member as he refuses to be led by an inept person.
There are reports that Vieira had even attempted to move a no confidence motion to the Board against Craig. And there are also reports that Vieira sometimes invited members from the Board to his sub-committee meetings so he can make decisions there.
He then returns to the full Board saying, “We have made these decisions.” Members say that the responsible Minister, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, is aware of the situation but has taken no action.
“The Minister knows. I think the entire cabinet knows.” Nagamootoo could not be reached.
From all indications, the current struggle between Vieira and Craig is nothing new “but most of us thought they would have sorted things out by now.”
Aside from what has been reported by members of the Board, there have been public hints that Craig and Vieira are not on the same wave length, for want of a better term.
A few months ago, Vieira had made statements about the radio licences. Craig later told the public that Vieira was out of order with his remarks and that his statements were not an accurate representation of the discussions of the Board.
Some members are of the opinion that Craig is trying his best, while others feel that he is in way over his head and they support Vieira.
Vieira chose not to comment on the reported discord between him and Craig. He said that there are “some issues holding us up.”
Craig had explained that plans previously announced by the Authority cannot be implemented unless the necessary regulations are in place.
If the regulations become approved by Cabinet, GNBA’s Board will then ask all broadcasters to reapply for licences that will now conform to the new regulations.
Craig said that on file applicants will be asked to update their applications to also confirm with the new format.
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