I have been observing the actions of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) in recent months and am being led to believe that the body, set up as a bipartisan entity to ensure broadcasters comply with the Broadcasting Act, Number 17 of 2011, has been politically contaminated and has now been given a mandate to go after broadcasters, who are not pushing the government’s propaganda and those who are reporting information coming out of the political opposition.
Article 146 (1) of the Guyana Constitution states clearly, “except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in his enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference and freedom from interference with his correspondence.”
Editor, this is a fundamental right guaranteed to all Guyanese. How-ever, the recent actions of the GNBA and the government by extension, have put under threat, this basic human right.
I wish to make a few points to bolster my belief.
1. As a representative of a broadcast entity, I made two recent appearances before the GNBA’s Disciplinary Committee headed by a known AFC member and on both occasions, members of that committee attempted to instruct me how the media house I represented, should report on matters of a political nature, inclusive of instructions that border on infringing on the editorial policy of the media house as well as censoring our coverage. During the second of the two meetings, one of the members of the committee went as far as asking me pointedly, “You can’t find anything positive about this government to report?”
2. I observe that Television and Radio Stations that are openly pro-government, are continuing to breach the Broadcasting Laws unabated, inclusive of libelous and slanderous content, without a single slap on the wrist from the GNBA.
3. Most recently, the GNBA launched a vigorous campaign against media houses that carried/ reported on Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo’s speech at Babu Jaan, with the intent of sanctions.
4. Director of Public Information, Imran Khan has been on a campaign for the past months, attacking Mr. Jagdeo with statements that are libelous, slanderous, attacking the good character of a former President and constitutional office-holder in the Leader of the Opposition. These video statements are being broadcast on a number of TV and Radio Stations, using state funds (I have evidence to support this claim), but based on my information, not a single letter of Red Line Infraction was sent to any of these media houses by the GNBA and again, I have the evidence to support my claim.
Editor, having considered these factors and the many other cases which I am aware of, I can only conclude that the GNBA, which has political appointees of the APNU+AFC, is preparing the ground work to pull off air, media houses that are not pandering to the government and pushing their propaganda.
In conclusion, I do hope the Guyana Press Association, the Human Rights Association, Transparency Inter-national, the international community, the various other rights groups, political commentators and Guyanese at large, are taking stock of the actions of the Granger administration, which promised press freedom, but whose broadcasting authority is now making efforts to suppress freedom of expression and a free press.
Broadcaster, Talk Show Host