By Abena Rockcliffe
Ever since the names of the two embattled Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) Board
directors were made known, Anthony Vieira has maintained that Secretary to the Board, Violet Boyal could corroborate his story of innocence.
Vieira said that Boyal was at the meeting and is in a good position to say that he carried out the will of the Board and is not guilty of the allegations against him.
A broadcaster, Kenwin Charles, reported to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and to the GNBA that two Board members, Anthony Vieira and Vic Insanally, tried to get him to part with his cable broadcast on the Essequibo Coast.
They suggested that he move his operation to Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara and to sell his assets to a prominent Essequibo businessman.
Vieira’s story is falling apart. Kaieteur News has been able to access the minutes of the first meeting between the Board representatives and the broadcaster, Kenwin Charles. The notes of the minutes were taken by the Board Secretary, Boyal.
Vieira took the lead in that meeting as the minutes reflected no utterances by Insanally.
According to the minutes, Vieira told the broadcaster that if he is to secure a licence from GNBA he will have to use the Multichannel, Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS). He said that the board does not want anyone operating on the UHF band.
He told Charles that he has to relocate and he is being offered, “compensation to operate from Mahaicony, Mahaica Abary by relocating the tower.”
The minutes said that Vieira also told Charles that the Board already offered Premium Communications Services Inc. “Supenaam to Charity because they have more physical infrastructure.”
Further, the minutes show that Vieira acted as a middle man. He told the Broadcaster that he will be introduced to one “Jeffrey Fraser who owns lands in Region Five (Mahaicony) for the business to be set up.” He then told Charles that the Board is “trying to regulate, not close persons down.”
This newspaper understands that only one of Vieira’s statements reflected in the minutes was authorized by the Board, that statement being that the Board is trying to regulate the sector.
All other statements made by Vieira were his own. Two Board members confirmed that the Board did not authorize Vieira to tell the Broadcaster anything about what frequency he has to use.
Kaieteur News understands that the idea was brought up in the Board meeting by Vieira but the Board did not settle on that. In fact, it is not even up to GNBA to decide what frequency is to be used. That is a matter for the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU).
So, even if GNBA decides that that is what it wants, the NFMU will have to agree before that measure can be implemented.
In effect, Vieira was not only acting on his own accord, he was also acting outside the ambit of the authority of GNBA in telling the broadcaster he cannot operate using UHF, the minutes showed.
The “compensation” that is to be given to Northwest TV (Charles’s station) if it moves to Mahaicony is also a cause for concern. However, the minutes of the meeting did not explain what Vieira meant exactly by “compensation” and did not identify the source of this compensation.
Vieira’s statement about offing Premium Communications Service Inc. Supenaam to Charity is another representation of him going off on a whim, said a Board member. The Board has made no such decision, the member said.
Perhaps the most appalling of all that is stated in the minutes is that Vieira was acting as a middle man.
It is not even clear whether Vieira was acting as a real estate agent for the broadcaster to buy the land or if the land was to be rented. Whatever the case, this was far from what Vieira was authorized by the Board to do.
All cable operators are currently unlicensed. GNBA made a decision to regulate the sector. It decided to start in Essequibo then move to Demerara and Berbice.
The Board decided to meet with the broadcasters to reach a settlement. Vieira and Insanally were just supposed to access Charles’s financial records and try to agree on a settlement for him to pay for the years he has been in operation based on the profit he was making.
After paying off the board, Charles was supposed to be offered a licence.
The minutes did not reflect the offer for Charles to sell to the prominent businessman. That offer to sell was made at another which was held at Insanally’s office, the broadcaster said..
Kaieteur News understands that there is also solid proof that the offer was indeed made.
Earlier last week, Charles spoke of how Vieira and Insanally tried to coerce him into selling his operation to a prominent business man. Charles said that he was told that unless he agrees to do that and to move to Mahaicony he would not be given licence to operate any part of Guyana.
A complaint was made to the Office of the Prime Minister and is being investigated.
Chairman of the Board, Leonard Craig, told the media that he too will be investigating the matter. He subsequently received a lawyers’ letter from Vieira and Insanally, instructing him to no longer speak publicly on the matter and to compensate them for the negative publicity.
Craig was also told that it is improper for him to carry out any investigation.
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