The International Press Group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is urging President David A. Granger not to assent to the Broadcasting Bill that was adopted by Guyana’s National Assembly last Friday.
In a statement on Tuesday, the press body called for consultations with broadcasters in order to take into account their recommendations.
According to Reporters Without Borders, “the current Bill, which was adopted without such consultation, raises multiple press freedom concerns.”
Last Friday, the National Assembly adopted The Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill of 2017.
The legislation has drawn sharp criticism from several broadcasters as well as from the Guyana Press Association and regional press groups.
The Bill is an amendment to the original Broadcasting Bill which has been in place since 2011.
The Government has said the new legislation is meant to address the issue of broadcasters who have long been operating without a license.
Some local broadcasters have also raised concern about the provision which requests that they provide up to 60 minutes per day for public service announcements and programmes.
“It would appear that the legislative process in Guyana failed to adequately address broadcasters’ concerns regarding a new law that would impact their day-to-day operations and could even threaten their existence,” said Margaux Ewen, Advocacy and Communications Director for RSF’s North America Bureau.
“RSF urges President Granger not to assent to this legislation until these concerns can be addressed through meaningful consultation”, the statement said.
In a statement issued Monday, the regional group Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) called for meetings between the President and broadcasters and argued “this is the best option to avoid what may be a protracted legal matter that would be unhelpful in achieving the desired objectives of the parties concerned.”