The new Board of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) held its first press conference on Friday and said it was preparing to challenge radio licences issued by Former President Bharrat Jagdeo even as objections were raised to the ownership of broadcasting licences by political parties.
GNBA Chairman Leonard Craig, told reporters that the Board has discussed the issue and has decided that the licences appear to have been issued contrary to and in violation of good administrative practices.
He said the Board was fully cognizant that the issue regarding licences issued by the Former President, shortly before leaving office and prior to the operationalizing of the current Broadcasting Act of 2011, has attracted the greatest interest relative to the Board’s function to date.
“The said licences appeared to have been arbitrarily issued to persons and entities with close ties to the decision maker and without regard to prior existing applications,” Mr. Craig said.
He further explained that the decision would have preempted the application of the Broadcasting Act which was already assented to but was awaiting a date to come into operation, which was also solely in the Authority of Mr. Jagdeo at the time.
“The issues relating to the said licences pose difficult questions which ought only to be determined after deliberate consideration of the legal options available which includes but it not limited to litigation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Attorney at Law and GNBA Director Abiola Wong- Innis explained that the decision has already been taken to challenge the move but said the Board is yet to decide on whether to approach the Court or the Legislature.
On a separate note, Director and former Broadcaster Anthony Vieira who had sold out his tv station to Jagdeo’s best friend, said the Board was totally against Political Parties owning Broadcasting Licences.
Mr. Jagdeo’s Party – the People’s Progressive Party – was issued a licence by him under the Mirror media group and is currently the only political party that operates a radio station.
The Board said it could not support such a move with the limited space that is available.
Board members also believe that it would not be able to refuse any party a licence, without being accused of being biased. It was also noted that such granting of licences would only allow for more resources to be diverted to monitoring over a 24 hour period.