The Chairperson of the National Broadcasting Authority and Member of Parliament for the People’s Progressive Party, Ms. Bibi Shaddick has declared that the Authority under the law does not really have any authority to revoke those radio licenses that were issued by Former President Bharrat Jagdeo without cause.
Shaddick used the opening of her Budget debate contribution to address the issue late Monday night in the National Assembly. She said “the Board of the Guyana National Broadcast Authority has never discussed the revocation of any licenses and is not authorised to revoke any license by law except for cause and no such cause has been brought to us”.
Private Media Owners have been protesting the process used by Jagdeo to issue the radio licenses just before he demitted office. They believe the Jagdeo process was a vindictive one which was meant to award friends and families of the ruling party while ignoring professionals who have been involved in media and broadcasting for decades.
The Broadcasting Authority Chairperson used the halls of the National Assembly to criticise those media owners and operators who have been protesting the radio license issue. She said the protests have been a clear attempt to bully the Authority and she will have none of it.
Ms. Shaddick said “I have never succumbed to bullyism, don’t expect to succumb to bullyism and I will not head a Board which will buckle to those things”.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo just before leaving office in 2011 issued the radio licenses to a number of companies and individuals. In all 10 licenses were issued but it was recently revealed that at least 3 of the licensees have been issued five radio transmission frequencies each and all three of those licensees have close ties to the governing party.
The Guyana Press Association and the Guyana Media Proprietors Association have both issued strong calls for the issue to be adequately addressed and for the Jagdeo issued licenses to be revisited. The Government has defended the Jagdeo decision consistently.
Private media owners and broadcasters have pointed out that while the former President ignored their applications, he doled out the radio licenses to his friends as if they were his private property rather than a scare national resource. They intend to continue to press their case locally and internationally on the issue.
The Guyana National Broadcasting Authority was formed as part of the Broadcasting Act of 2011 to serve as a regulatory body for the sector. Six of its seven members were nominated by the President while the remaining one got the nod of the Opposition Leader.