The government has not honoured the agreement on the Linden TV station

Dear Editor,
I have a few observations and questions about this ridiculous situation regarding all the agreements with the people of Linden, but especially with regard to the transfer of the TV station to them.

To do this properly, people need to understand the sequence of events as they occurred and my reaction to them:
1.  On July 17, 2012 there was a protest at the McKenzie/Wismar Bridge and approximately 30 people were shot, 3 of whom died; there was an international and national outcry against this use of excessive force.

2.  The protest continued until August 21, 2012 when the government signed an agreement. The terms of the agreement as far as the television service was concerned was item 3 of the overall agreement as follows:

3.  Television in Region 10: a) The Government and Region 10 agree as follows:
i)   That the dish and transmitter that were given to the Linden community will be given to the Region 10 Regional Democratic Council. The dish and transmitter should be transferred to the Region within 14 days of the signing of this agreement.

ii)  That it was agreed that Region 10 will apply for a broadcasting licence and the government will facilitate the granting of that licence in keeping with the law.

4.  The expected transfer was never made and Lindeners were instead instructed to apply to the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) for the licence to operate, but the understanding was that 14 days after the signing of the agreement the dish and the Channel 13 transmitter would be given to the Linden community and that thereafter they would apply for a licence.

Notwithstanding the fact that Lindeners were not given the transmitter or the dish within the agreed 14 days they applied to the NFMU along with their broadcast plan and the technical specifications of the installation, all of which were submitted to the NFMU by the end of August 2012. They never heard from the NFMU again.

The promised transmitter and the dish had still not been handed over to the Lindeners as of December 17, 2012, when the agreement required that it should have been handed over 14 days after August 21,  2012, ie by August 31, 2012. It is now therefore overdue by more than 120 days.

5.  This was gross deception perpetrated on the opposition negotiators, since 10 licences for radio were given by Mr Bharrat Jagdeo in 2011 without the necessity of applying to the NFMU or the Broadcast Authority. In addition, the Learning Channel was put on the air in 2011 without application to any agency to do so. Therefore during the talks leading to the August 21 agreement, the opposition were coerced into accepting a completely unacceptable Broadcast Authority since Ms Gail Teixeira and Mr Lumumba told them that the Linden station could not be licensed any other way.

By agreeing to facilitate the Lindeners the opposition were deceived into accepting an unconstitutional Broadcast Authority which can never be impartial, independent or autonomous, and which would have never surfaced if the Linden issue had not arisen. The opposition therefore now has a responsibility to undo this situation, and I am happy to see that they have placed the Broadcast Authority Act high on their parliamentary agenda when Parliament reconvenes. This unconstitutional, biased Broadcast Authority must be dissolved immediately.

6.  On Monday, December 10, the Regional Chairman of Region 10, Sharma Solomon, received a letter from the National Broadcasting Authority signed by Bibi Shadick instructing him to apply to the broadcast authority for permission to broadcast in Linden. This is completely contrary to the agreement the government and the Lindeners signed on August 21,  and is therefore a political matter way above the head of Ms Shadick. The PPP has once again repudiated one more aspect of the Linden/ GOG agreement of August 21, 2012.

At all times we must be aware that we cannot have any sort of verbal or written agreement with the PPP; they will not honour it. The Dialogue, the Communiqué and countless other examples exist which demonstrate that the PPP cannot be relied on to honour any agreement. Blood was shed for this TV station in Linden, and this is how the PPP intend to maintain peace and tranquillity in Guyana, ie by mendacity and deception – leaving the people of Linden with only the option of protest to have the agreements they made honoured.

7.  In the meantime this unconstitutional authority has begun the process of persecuting the other local broadcasters who are not sympathetic to the PPP, and are acting in a completely partisan manner demonstrating that they can never be trusted to be impartial, independent and autonomous. Any TV or radio station not sympathetic to the PPP will be penalised for the most trivial infraction. This is called minority democracy.

Yours faithfully,
Tony Vieira

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