Apr 11, 2018 News
One of the more popular radio stations in Guyana—94.1 Boom FM—owned by Hits and Jams Entertainment has been able to avoid experiencing temporary shutdown resulting from nonpayment of fees.
Yesterday, this newspaper published an article quoting Attorney-at-law and Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Agency (GNBA), Leslie Sobers, listing the names of radio stations that are not in financial compliance and will face serious sanctions as a result.
Sobers said that only the following are being deemed legal broadcasters :Blackman and Sons, Brutal Group Inc, CNS Sharma, Two Brothers Corporation, Multi Cultural Communication, Kaieteur Radio, I-Radio, Pinnacle Radio, Freedom Radio, Radio Guyana Inc, Little Rock Radio and NTN Radio.
Kaieteur News stated that notably absent from that list were National Communications Network and Hits and Jams Radio.
Yesterday, both entities issued almost identical statements seeking to discredit the information reflected in the article. The outlets went as far as to demand an apology.
NCN’s statement read, “We take our financial obligations to the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) very seriously and are currently up-to-date on all 2017 fees owed to the GNBA for all three of our radio stations.”
The statement continued, “We regret this move by Kaieteur News to publish false information about our financial standing without seeking a comment from us for clarity. We expect nothing less than an apology as prominent as the false headline on their front page.”
NCN went even further as to state, “We advise the GNBA to be circumspect when sharing sensitive information. It is widely known that Kaieteur News was recently awarded their own licence for radio broadcasting. Finally, we advise all our clients and advertisers that we are fully compliant with the GNBA and look forward to building stronger partnerships.”
HJ’s release was similar but that entity did not issue any advice to the GNBA.
Sobers was contacted by Kaieteur News. He said, “GNBA and the Board of Directors thereof do not make statements that cannot be supported. Any statement made in relation to broadcasters compliance with the finances, the broadcast policy or their obligations under the laws of this country as it relates to content can be backed and supported by strong evidence. I am not interested in any public relations or cover up.”
Sobers said, too, that as of Monday afternoon when he provided the list of compliant radio stations to this newspapers, HJ Radio and NCN were not on that list.
Sobers said that when he went into the Authority yesterday, he was told that HJ has “sorted themselves out.” Sobers said that this does not mean that HJ is fully in compliance but means that the radio station will not face any sanctions now.
“I will not give figures but I will tell you that the arrangement is not one that renders HJ totally in the clear but one that makes them qualified to be deemed them compliant and avoid sanctions,” said Sobers.
Sources at HJ said that a cheque was issued Friday last.
NCN however, despite the strong statement, is, according to Sobers, still not in compliance.
Sobers said that NCN’s finance is now under scrutiny. Payments were made by NCN for both radio and television for 2017 but the company is still in arrears for 2018.
Sobers said that other Broadcasters are still to pay up or make arrangements to do so. These include six TV Broadcasters, four cable and four radio, including NCN and Wireless Radio.
He said that some broadcasters made efforts on Friday, and Monday to either pay off their fees, while others entered into a payment scheme with the Authority. This is after this newspaper published a page one story highlighting imminent shutdown for stations that are not in financial compliance.
On Monday, Sobers said that GNBA was grateful that some broadcasters paid off, as it is not the desire of the authority to take stations off air. However, he said, “We have been patient and now it is time for us to take necessary measures.”
The GNBA Chairman said that radio stations that continue to operate while owing are doing so illegally and “in the very near future, we will make moves to take them off air. “
Sobers was keen to note, “When I say in the very near future, I mean in coming days, not weeks.”
Kaieteur News understands that those who are yet to pay their fees owe millions of dollars.
Last week, Sobers told Kaieteur News that at the beginning of the year, he met with all broadcasters—television and radio. During his meeting with radio broadcasters, Sobers informed them of the Board’s decision to facilitate a payment scheme that they should take advantage of to fulfill their financial obligations.
The Board decided to have all broadcasters, individually, pay half of their debt within the first quarter of the year, giving them the rest of the year to pay the balance in monthly installments.
But the first quarter elapsed without all broadcasters coming in financial compliance.
Sobers said that one broadcaster, whom he did not name, cried out that he cannot make the payment.
The broadcaster reportedly indicated that he will be filing for bankruptcy. Sobers said, “That will not stop us; we will still be going after him. We cannot allow him to come and operate here, make money, claim he folded, and go away with all the money he owes us.”
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