The Alliance For Change on June 11 wrote President Donald Ramotar on changes it wants at the National Communications Network and charged that state TV’s news coverage is “appallingly biased” in favour of the government.
The letter to Ramotar followed an informal discussion two weeks ago between the President and AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan during which the opposition party was asked to follow up the matter. The letter was released by the AFC today.
Six measures were outlined by the AFC to be urgently addressed. These are:
1. NCN, in keeping with good journalism practices, must afford the political opposition the right of reply to all statements, allegations or references made with regard to those parties, their leaders, their views and their actions.
2. NCN, in recognition of the will of the people of Guyana, must immediately make available at least one hour of free, live airtime to each parliamentary political party every week.
3. NCN must also immediately make available at least one hour of paid airtime to each political party every week.
4. The Boards of Directors of NCN and other state media must be changed to reflect a broader cross-section of our society and include persons nominated by the political opposition.
5. NCN must make available its recorded footage of parliamentary debates to members of the public and other media houses for use as they see fit. This need not be free of cost.
6. The full implementation of UNESCO’s Best Practices Source Book for Public Service Broadcasting
The letter signed by General Secretary David Patterson stated “We believe that the state media, where it exists, has a duty to provide accurate and complete information to the citizens of the state, and that in this regard NCN is woefully deficient. This deficiency can do irreparable harm to the country by undermining the credibility of the State and discriminating against sections of the population by denying them access to their political representatives via the state media. It also adds to the perception that Guyana is not yet a full-fledged functioning democracy. Further, we feel that such misuse of the State media undermines any improvement in relations between the parliamentary political parties.
Patterson asked that Ramotar treat with the recommendations urgently.