The PNCR says that the government has to end its harassment of Stabroek News (SN) and certain TV stations.
Referring to the withdrawal of state advertising from SN, the PNCR in a press release said the issue is not what would have occurred under the PNC but rather that under the Jagdeo administration, press freedom is under threat, the PNC says.
The opposition party’s statement was in response to a letter by John Da Silva in Monday’s edition of the Kaieteur News captioned ‘What would the Stabroek News have been able to do under the PNC regime’. In the letter Da Silva reiterated the government’s position that the issue of the withdrawal of ads to this newspaper was not one of press freedom.
The letter by Da Silva had further stated that “the SN supply of newsprint or importing of printing machinery and parts are not restricted in any way.
Nor are their staff and vendors harassed or threatened, as happened to those connected to the Catholic Standard and Mirror during the PNC regime”. The letter had said that as seen by the recent SN protest, the newspaper is “enjoying all the benefits and opportunities of press freedom in a democratic society”. “What would the SN have been able to do under a PNC regime?” he questioned.
In its statement, the PNCR declared that “It should be clear to all right thinking Guyanese that the issue is not what would have occurred under the PNC. The issue is that under the Jagdeo PPP/C regime press freedom is under threat.”
The PNCR further called on the Jagdeo administration to end its harassment of the Stabroek News, TV stations such as Channels 6, 9 and 28 and the cable operators and end the state monopoly of radio. The statement also called on the administration to ensure all shades of the country’s opinion are reflected in official programming and for there to be access to the state media by the opposition forces based on objective criteria.
The statement said that it was important to point out that Stabroek News emerged in 1986 under the PNC government and was openly critical of the government under then President Desmond Hoyte “but was not harassed in any fashion by the PNC Government”.
It added that the PNC having practised socialist policies reassessed the situation and “committed itself to the development of a democratic state based on the doctrines of the rule of law, the separation of powers, independence of the Judiciary and the existence of a free press”.
It added that the PPP/C had the opportunity to continue the reforms initiated by the party but that it had maintained the radio monopoly and made the state media an instrument of the PPP/C.
Since the withdrawal of state ads by the government from this newspaper last year Stabroek News has maintained that the withdrawal was in retaliation over its editorial stance on various issues.
The government while stating that it was a commercial decision, has steadfastly refused to accept the recommendations made to have the circulation of the three daily newspapers audited and the ads allocated by a professional advertising agency. This action by the government has been condemned throughout the region and by several international press associations.