Merundoi to resume broadcast next week

-after amicable resolution

The radio serial Merundoi, which was pulled from the state-owned National Com-munication Network (NCN) airwaves on Tuesday reportedly over a storyline that dealt with voter education, is expected to return on air on Monday, according to Head of the Merundoi local office Margaret Lawrence.

Lawrence told Stabroek News that the matter was “amicably” resolved and described the situation as a “storm in a teacup.” She declined to offer further comment and would only say that NCN and Merundoi would issue a joint press release. Up to press time, no release was issued.

Repeated efforts to make contact with Programme Manager of NCN Martin Goolsarran proved futile, as on occasions when contact was made with his office he was either on the phone or not there.

Stabroek News asked Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon about the issue yesterday during his weekly press conference and he indicated it would be only be appropriate for NCN or Merundoi to speak on the issue. Further, Luncheon said that the issue should be looked at in the context of the new regulations, which would be firmly and rigorously implemented under the new broadcast law.

On Tuesday, a source close to the production had confirmed that they were inform-ed on the very day that the show would no longer be aired.

The source said that one of the criteria for a USAID grant received in June was for harmony, tolerance and voter education to be incorporated into the skits. Stabroek News was told that the aim of the voter education storyline was to persuade people to vote unity and not race. “It was all about general education,” the source stressed.

The source had told this newspaper that the pulled show was already on the internet. It was explained that at the beginning of the week when the various series are given to the radio, they are also uploaded onto the internet.

Persons close to the radio play said that this development was surprising, since there was no message about a political party or anything that would incite tension or conflict. Over the years it has gained popularity among many, especially youths.

Merundoi started out as a joint venture production by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Glo-bal AIDS Programme Guyana in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

The serial is a PEPFAR-Government of Guyana project based on the MARCH (Modelling and Reinforce-ment to Combat HIV) strategy for behaviour change communication and aims to help people reduce the risk of HIV infection and transmission; encourage access to care and treatment, support individual behaviour change and reduce stigma and discrimination.

When it acquired Non Governmental Organisa-tion status in 2008, it functioned independently with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) being its main donor. Since its first episode aired in October 2006, Merundoi had integrated into the health and education sectors, executing its strategy for behaviour change communication and tapping into the school curriculum.