The Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) has recorded an increase in the number of infractions committed by broadcasters.
According to information compiled by the authority, the infringements have almost doubled on a monthly basis since the last Stakeholders meeting in August. The GNBA recorded 18 infractions in August, 39 in September; 41 in October and 31 in November.
Nevertheless, in his remarks to the 5th Stakeholder engagement held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on Wednesday, Chairman Leslie Sobers lauded the positive relations fostered by GNBA, broadcasters and other stakeholders.
Sobers specifically mentioned the recently introduced Citizen Monitoring Programme which gives the listening and viewing public an opportunity to be able to lodge their complaints in a structured manner with the authority.
“We have had also heartening reactions from the listening public in terms of their preferences…and though this was not scientifically assessed, the feedback from members of the public seemed to suggest that Broadcasters are not fully aware of their audience’s listening and viewing preferences. I personally have received several complaints from persons of all walks of life against certain broadcasters.
“In order to counter any misconception on the part of broadcasters that they are catering for the preferences of a majority of their perceived target audience, we will be conducting audience surveys and will publish the results. We have said this before and we urge you to take it seriously.”
Sobers said too that although GNBA has still recorded a number of infractions, the authority will be patiently renewing its efforts to persuade broadcasters to adopt a more responsible stance.
In this regard, Sobers said the GNBA has held several meetings between its special investigative committee and broadcasters concerning reported infractions.
“The effrontery of broadcasters who have pledged to remain defiant is not harming the GNBA. In fact, they are harming the very audience to which, they believe, they cater.
For sure they are casting doubt as to their fitness and properness to be holders of broadcast licences,” Sobers said.
Earlier this year, the GNBA recorded that in a period of five months over 150 infringements were committed by broadcasters. The infractions included the breach of good taste and decency, through the use of obscene language in songs and audiovisual content, the use of profanity in movies, irresponsible reporting on sensitive issues, irresponsible programme hosting, and inappropriate graphic content in reported pieces.
Back then Sobers had noted that of the 19 registered television stations, and 20 registered radio stations, there were 39 infringements in January, 40 in February, 49 in March, 22 in April, and at least 16 infringements recorded in May of this year.
He stressed however, that as a regulatory body, the GNBA is not taking a big stick approach to ensure compliance.
“It’s a step by step process. These broadcasters are given several warnings before any stern action is taken. We try to work with them to point out the flaws and see how we can best help them to improve the quality of programmes in keeping with the regulations.”
According to Sobers, the GNBA has constantly implored broadcasters to use the guidelines for the broadcasting legislation, to work towards achieving quality broadcasting in Guyana. In fact, he noted that several consultations are planned for the next two years in keeping with the Authority’s strategic plan.
The GNBA Head said that the Authority has been developing strategies to monitor as well as assist broadcasters to be compliant with the rules of broadcasting.
“We are aware that there are some challenges, but we have been encouraging broadcasters to, as much as possible, utilise the guidelines… ”
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