Aug 18, 2017 News
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo met Wednesday with board members of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) at the authority’s office on Lamaha Street.
The PM welcomed the members to their new location and congratulated the organisation on their work completed so far, and also for their recommendations that were made and inputted in the Broadcast Act.
The three Ps – ‘Public-Private Partnership’ – were noted by the Prime Minister, as important in the execution of the functions and mandate of the GNBA.
“You have my full support, as the Minister with responsibility for broadcasting, in your zoning activities in redefining the contours of broadcasting in Guyana”, he said.
The issue of broadcast time was discussed extensively. Nagamootoo noted that the authority recommended one minute per 60 minutes per day. He explained “the Act had stated that a certain percentage of broadcast time shall be made available for public broadcasting which was called Development Support Broadcasting”.
The Prime Minister said that the organization should not leave it to government to create 60- minute or 10-minute content, but open it to all enterprising persons, “maybe a fund could be developed by the GNBA … for producers of Public Content, Public Information Content, and they should apply to access the funds to produce programmes, whether it is a programme they wish to produce in a particular way, in a particular format to deal with suicide prevention, or smoking to alcohol consumption.”
Nagamootoo identified that there is a difference “between government information and government provided information and party propaganda”. He noted that “no station private or public” should be required or mandated to carry party political propaganda; the GNBA needs to assure the Guyanese people that it understands public broadcasting content is not synonymous with political party propaganda.
While addressing key issues in the meeting, he told the board members that clarity is needed on the number of companies that have not submitted their annual licence fee since 2016, as this renders them unlicensed and vulnerable under the law.
“I would like that at this meeting with you, whether or not the payment of fees would have meant that any action would have been taken in regards to the assigned frequencies, because there is a requirement under law that all persons, legal persons that is, licensed to operate, must pay a fee. I need to be informed by this Authority what is the status of those entities that have not paid their fees and have been operating”, the Prime Minister said.
Additionally, the amount licensed operators are required to pay was discussed. Nagamootoo said the previous regulation had stipulated a certain amount in the fee structure. He explained that there was an alternative that they either pay the base fee or 3.5 percent of gross revenues.
He asked to be advised on whether licensees had stated a profit or if they were declaring losses because, “it means that the computation of 3.5 percent would have to be defined whether it was intended to be growth gross or net gross, because I heard in the National Assembly that if Broadcasters were to go with the one-hour public service broadcasting, they will suffer the loss of millions of dollars, because their revenue is computed on a fix sum of $30,000 per hour”, he pointed out.
The Prime Minister urged board members to earnestly pursue the matter to ascertain the actual amount operators were earning when they do not disclose gross earnings, since this means the Authority is being cheated out of revenues it is entitled to under the law
He emphasised that the broadcasting authority was created to satisfy the needs and necessities of the community which it serves.
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