Sharma still mulling suspension options

Broadcaster CN Sharma says he will consider his options including legal avenues after receipt of the letter from President Bharrat Jagdeo suspending his television station from broadcasting which is expected to be delivered today.

“When I get the letter then I will decide what to do,” he told Stabroek News yesterday after being questioned on whether he is considering legal options.

CN Sharma

On Friday, Sharma during a meeting with Jagdeo at the Office of the President, was handed a four-month licence suspension as a penalty for a May 4, 2011 Anthony Vieira commentary in which there were damaging statements about Bishop Juan Edghill.

The suspension begins at midnight tonight.

Sharma has begun making arrangements for some of his programmes to be broadcast on other TV stations in addition to usual web streaming on his station’s website which he has been doing for the past year.

He said that death announcements and birthday greetings will be broadcast on Channel 13 as well as other programmes depending on what he can afford. Utilizing other channels is being examined as well. Sharma said that “thousands of people” have been calling since the announcement of the suspension. He pointed out that he was being closed at “a prime business time” at elections and Christmas.

Sharma had told reporters minutes after his meeting with the President that according to the President, the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) had recommended eight months suspension.  However, the President, according to Sharma, took into consideration the contents of the discussions and the fact that Sharma had encountered difficulties with bank payments and decided to halve the original recommendation.

“He took some time and made a decision for four months suspension. The suspension starts from Monday midnight.  We will receive from OP a letter saying we have now been suspended for four months,” Sharma had said.

Sharma had said that the development would affect the business greatly as well as the more than 30 persons he has on staff who will be out of jobs.

He said too that he was also told that the time could be shortened but he would have to appeal to the new president following general elections later this year.

The suspension has been criticized by political parties and the Guyana Press Association. Sharma had been awaiting a ruling from Jagdeo on whether the station’s licence would be suspended or revoked after he was cited by the ACB for breaches of the conditions of his licence, following the controversial commentary on Edghill. CNS Channel 6 offered an “unequivocal apology” to Edghill for the “embarrassment and damage to character” caused by the airing of the commentary. It was stated that the staff made a mistake and aired the wrong commentary.

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