A total of 21 previously licensed and unlicensed broadcasters have applied for new licences, according to Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) Chairman Leslie Sobers, who said last evening that the others who have failed to meet last Friday’s deadline have until tomorrow to submit their applications.
Sobers, who sent out a stern warning on September 30 that all had to adhere to the deadline in keeping with a recent amendment to the broadcast law, told Sunday Stabroek that of the 38 previously licensed television, radio and cable broadcasters, 17 had applied. Four previously unlicensed broadcasters also applied and Sobers explained that he has been given no indication that there are more previously unlicensed broadcasters who have to apply. “Of the ones operating and not properly licensed, four came forward and sorted themselves out,” he said.
According to Sobers, the remaining 21 broadcasters have said that they are still working on their applications and would complete them by the end of this weekend. He said that the Authority has granted them an extension as the technical person needed to sign off on their spectrum allocations is unavailable. The official is presently out of the city and as a result the broadcasters are awaiting his return to complete their applications.
Broadcasters were required to reapply for licences following the enactment of the Broad-casting (Amendment) Act on September 7.
The new law required all radio and television broadcasters to apply for licences within 30 days of the amendments coming into force, failing which they will face immediate closure of their operations.
The law says broadcasters who fail to apply for licensing or are rejected by the GNBA shall immediately halt operations or they would be guilty of an offence, for which they could face a one-year prison term, a fine of $1 million and the forfeiture of all their equipment.
The amendments made under the law resulted in strong objections by the opposition, as well as several broadcasters. Multiple broadcasters had requested a meeting with the Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo on August 2, one day before the bill was debated and passed in the National Assembly, but it was not granted.