Second media proprietor challenges Jagdeo radio licence issue

Another media proprietor has moved to the courts to challenge former president Bharrat Jagdeo’s decision in November 2011 to issue radio and television licences to twelve persons/companies.

Glenn Lall, owner of the National Media and Publishing Company Limited (publisher of the Kaieteur News) through his lawyers Roysdale Forde and Keshia Chase filed the lawsuit on Friday last stating that Jagdeo’s decision was a breach of his constitutional rights and was made in bad faith.

The Guyana Media Proprietors Association Limited was also listed as an applicant.

The respondents named in the court action are the Attorney General, the Minister performing the functions of the minister with the responsibility for broadcasting, the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU), Radio Guyana Inc, Telcor & Cultural Broadcasting Inc, NTN Radio, News Guyana Co Ltd, Rudolph Grant and Wireless Connection.

Broadcaster, Enrico Woolford took a similar step last Friday. He and Lall over the past few weeks have been holding picketing exercises at several locations including the Office of the President and State House to express their dissatisfaction with the situation.

Documents seen by this newspaper show that Lall in December 2008 wrote to Prime Minister Samuel Hinds requesting three licences. One was to own and operate a cable television network in Guyana, the second was to own and operate a public radio station and the third was for a licence to own and operate a television station.

The letter was copied to the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU). Lall subsequently received an acknowledgement letter from NFMU. The letter was dated February 26, 2009.

Lall as part of his application submitted technical data forms with detailed transmission information for each of the locations that he planned to set up in Georgetown (Eccles Industrial Site and Saffon Street), New Amsterdam and Linden.

In the court documents seen by this newspaper, Lall is asking the court for a declaration that the grant or issuance of radio licences to Radio Guyana Inc, Telcor & Cultural Broadcasting Inc, NTN Radio, News Guyana Co Ltd, Rudolph Grant and Wireless Connection, Hits & Jams Entertainment, Alfro Alphonso & Sons Enterprise, Haslyn Graham and Little Rock Television Station by Jagdeo and the NFMU under the Post and Telegraph Act Cap 41:01 were affected by “improper considerations and or motivations done in bad faith, was unreasonable, discriminatory, unconstitutional and of no legal effect.”

A similar declaration is being sought in relation to E-Networks Inc and Quark Communications Inc.

Several more declarations are also being requested in respect of how the licences were issued.

In addition the lawyers asked the court for a Writ of Certiorari directed to the Minister with responsibility for broadcasting to transmit and or bring the record of grant and or issuance of Radio Broadcast Licence and to show cause why Jagdeo’s decision in his capacity as that minister should not be quashed.

The court was also asked to grant three more Writs of Certiorari, two of which were in relation to Valmikki Singh, the managing director of the NFMU.

According to the court documents, orders were being sought for Singh to produce a statement of all available radio, television and cable frequencies in Guyana and for same to be granted to Lall and member of the Guyana Media Proprietors Association Limited who have applied.

In the interim, the court is being asked to grant an order directed to the Minister with responsibility for broadcasting to transmit the record of grant of the licences and to show cause why Jagdeo’s decision and that of Singh should not be quashed.

Also the court was asked for Conservatory Orders to stay the issuance of the licences.

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