Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday dismissed negative reactions to the recent CNS TV 6 suspension, while saying that the broadcaster’s infringement of the conditions of its licence was “irrefutable.”
He said that the “reactionaries” are overlooking the fact that there was a breach and “the fact is acknowledged by the licensee and supported by the public announcement notices by the licensee of their fault.” Luncheon added that the actual duration of the suspension was proposed by the licensee and accepted by the President during their second of two meetings with him at the OP—a claim denied by CNS Channel 6 Programme Director Savitree Sharma yesterday.
He was at the time addressing reporters at a post cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President (OP), where he said that there is no basis for the challenges and allegations that have surfaced in light of President Bharrat Jagdeo’s decision to sanction Channel Six for four months.
Asked whether opposition arguments that the suspension tilts to the advantage of the incumbent PPP/C were valid, Luncheon said, “I am not certain that a convincing case on the surface has been made.”
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Thursday called for the opposition to boycott elections until equal access to the media is in place. Luncheon yesterday described this call as “a regrettable development,” while pointing out that “one can engage in much conjecture as to why this particular incident has been elevated to the point of an elections boycott.”
Sharma has been off air since 6 pm Monday. The suspension was sparked by a May 4, 2011 Anthony Vieira commentary which was aired on the television station, during which comments were made about Ethnic Relations Commission head Juan Edghill, who later filed a complaint with the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB).
Luncheon also criticised PNCR leader Robert Corbin for condemning the suspension and accused him of plotting to render the ACB non-functional.
Corbin on Thursday criticised President Jagdeo’s justification for the suspension, saying that the credibility and legality of the ACB as currently constituted was questionable.
He noted that Jagdeo had refused to permit him to name a new nominee after it had been indicated that the PNCR’s original nominee, Ron Chase, had lost the confidence of the party.
“It is significant that President Jagdeo, who refused to act upon my notification, proceeded to name a new Chairman of the ACB, [Evan Persaud replaced Pat Dyal], and to appoint a new nominee of the Private Sector Commission, [Norman McLean replaced Carlton James], without giving the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to name a new nominee or even notify him of the above changes,” Corbin lamented.
He also noted that while Case continued to serve on the ACB, a recent letter he (Case) sent to the President indicated he had been incapacitated for more than two years and had been unable to function on the committee.
Corbin had filed a Writ in the High Court on May 31 seeking several declarations including a declaration that Case was not a nominee of the leader of the opposition on the ACB; a declaration that the ACB is not a duly constituted body under the relevant Act; and an Order declaring all acts, decisions and/or recommendations purportedly done and/or made by the ACB to be null, void and of no legal effect.
“The public diatribe by the leader of the opposition (Corbin) is most regrettable. That he has, in this instance, a few things himself to disclose about his role in attempting to frustrate the functions of the ACB,” Luncheon, however, said. He accused Corbin of seeking to remove nominees to the ACB and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) put forward by his predecessor as leader of the opposition, the late Desmond Hoyte. “My recollection is that different explanations and excuses were offered by Corbin but nothing of substance, nothing suggesting cause. Properly, the president rejected Corbin’s advances…,” he noted.