Social activist and internet radio talk show host Mark Benschop has written to President Donald Ramotar inquiring about the status of his application for a radio license. According to the letter which was seen by News Source, Mr. Benschop first applied for his radio license in 2009 through the National Frequency Management Unit and Minister of Information at the time, President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Benschop said he received acknowledgement of his application from the former President and the NFMU but since then he has heard nothing else about his application and whether they intend to grant him a license.
In his letter to President Ramotar, the talk show host who is critical of politicians and the way they handle the “people’s business” explained that his radio station would be a community station which will focus on news, music, current affairs and entertainment and will be open to Guyanese of all races, religions, sexual preference and political views. He said his station will be one to give a voice to everyone.
Mr. Benschop said he has noticed that many of the persons who have been granted license by the former President would have sent in their applications after him.
Mark Benschop who may be best known for his work as a social activist currently operates an internet radio station, benschopradio.com. The station features 24 hrs programming with nightly talk shows covering politics and the major news stories of the day. Benschop is known too to be a fierce critic of the People’s Progressive Party administration.
In the past he has complained of being targeted and victimized by the administration for his political views. He spent 5 years behind bars after he was charged with treason and the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict in his case.
The treason charge was heavily criticised by local and international human rights groups who believed that the government was trying to silence his criticism of them. He was released from prison after being pardoned by then President Bharrat Jagdeo who said at the time that he was releasing the talk show host from jail because he thought that Benschop had “learnt a lesson”.
The Government of Guyana is currently under pressure from a number of media and human rights groups to be transparent in the granting of radio licenses. Former President Jagdeo doled out 10 licenses just before he left office and sidelined a number of private and independent broadcasters and media companies in the process. Some of those media owners have since filed a lawsuit.
The United States has said the process used by Jagdeo was not transparent.