Attorney General Anil Nandlall on Monday lashed out at the media charging that their “biased” public pronouncements on the issuance of radio licences were likely to have a negative impact on the matter which is now the subject of court proceedings.
Speaking at a PPP press conference at Freedom House, Robb Street, Nandlall said the party has always been committed to the freedom of the press and freedom of expression. He noted that both freedoms are protected under Guyana’s Constitution. “While we champion freedom of the press and freedom of expression…we have been very emphatic in our assistance that this right carries with it responsibilities,” he stated.
“There is a distinct impression being conveyed to the public that there was racial profiling and ethnic profiling in the grant of licences in relation to radio,” Nandlall stated. Pointing out that five of the licensees were Indian-Guyanese and five were non-Indian-Guyanese, the Attorney General said, “I believe it is reckless to conclude that there was some form of ethnic or racial discrimination.”
He added that it was presumptuous to assume that those who received multiple frequencies did not put in applications for those frequencies. He said that in fact since the matter has gone to the courts it was not possible for the various media outlets reporting on the issuance of licences specific to radio to know what the applications looked like.
The AG stated that the government was working on internal transparency, but when asked, could not say if the licence applications would be made public. He said those were the issues for the courts to decide.
Nandlall said too that Vieira Communications Limited’s continuous queries should be treated as a separate entity. The AG said he was not aware why the former owner of what is now Television Guyana was so fixated on how the new owner goes about with business development.
When Stabroek News mentioned that Vieira has raised issues with the way in which Television Guyana seemingly skipped the application line using the new name instead of the name in which the original licences were to be acquired, Nandlall stated: “I don’t know what Mr Vieira’s concerns are,” and that he did not wish to speak further on the issue.
In 2011, just prior to elections, then president Bharrat Jagdeo had granted radio licences to Radio Guyana Inc, Telcor & Cultural Broadcasting Inc, NTN Radio, News Guyana Co Ltd, Rudolph Grant, Wireless Connection, Hits
& Jams Entertainment, Alfro Alphonso & Sons Enterprise, Haslyn Graham and Little Rock Television Station. These licences were granted in contravention of Jagdeo’s own commitment not to have new ones issued until the broadcast authority was in place.
Last month, broadcaster Enrico Woolford, Glenn Lall, owner of the National Media and Publishing Company Limited (publisher of the Kaieteur News) and the Guyana Media Proprietors Association Limited mounted court challenges to the issuan
se moves followed several weeks of protests. There have been calls from several quarters for their withdrawal and local and international bodies have pointed out that the issuance of the licences lacked transparency.