Some private media owners in Guyana peeved at the way former President Bharrat Jagdeo issued radio licenses just before he left office have decided to go to the court in an effort to have the licenses reexamined.
In motions filed by the National Media and Publishing Company Limited,The Guyana Media Proprietors Association Limited and Broadcaster Enrico Woolford, the media owners are asking the Court to declare that the grant or issuance of radio broadcasting licenses by former President Bharrat Jagdeo was affected by “improper considerations and or motivations, done in bad faith, was unreasonable, discriminatory, unconstitutional and of no legal effect”.
Similarly, the media owners want the Court to declare that the granting of television licenses covering the cable spectrum were also done in bad faith and were discriminatory. The Court is also being asked to declare that the granting of frequencies by the National Frequency Management Unit to the radio and cable companies is of no legal effect.
The private media owners have named the ten companies granted radio licenses and the two granted cable broadcast licenses in the action as respondents along with the Attorney General and the Minister who holds responsibility for the broadcasting sector. The National Frequency Management Unit and The Guyana National Broadcasting Authority have also been named as respondents in the matter.
The 10 companies granted radio licenses and named in the court documents are: Radio Guyana Inc., Telecor and Cultural Broadcasting Inc., NTN Radio, New Guyana Company Limited, Rudolph Grant, Wireless Connections, Hits and Jams Entertainment, Alfro Alphonso & Sons Enterprise, Haslyn Graham and Little Rock Television. The two cable companies are E-networks Inc. and Quark Communications Inc.
The media owners are also demanding a declaration that the granting of five frequencies each to 3 of the 10 radio companies is unreasonable, capricious and an abuse of a number of articles of the constitution that covers the broadcasting spectrum. The same is being said for the cable companies.
The Court action wants the Minister with responsibility for the broadcasting sector to show cause why the Jagdeo move to issue the licenses ought not be quashed on the grounds that it was unlawful.
They also want the Head of the National Frequency Management Unit to show cause why it’s decision to issue frequencies to the named defendants ought not be quashed.
Additionally they want the court to grant an order that a radio broadcast license, a radio broadcast frequency and a television and cable television frequency licenses be issued to the two of the named applicants.
Private media owners have been protesting the Government’s move to shut them out of the issuance of radio and broadcast licenses although many of them had pending applications for well over 10 years.
Kaieteur News owner Glen Lall and Broadcaster Enrico Woolford have declared that the Jagdeo decision was improper. They said he issued the licenses “as if they were his personal property”.
Today the Caribbean Media Workers Association joined the Guyana Press Association in lending support to the private media owners and calling on the Government to remedy the problem.