Broadcasters to pay at least $2.5M annually

Broadcasters to pay at least $2.5M annually

Chairperson of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority, Bibi Shadick on Wednesday morning announced that a number of broadcasters have been granted approval by the GNBA to continue with their operations. Some others have been given more time to make their applications and provide additional documents.

Shadick also announced today that both radio and television broadcasters will not have to pay an annual license fee of 3% of their total revenue providing that the percentage would be more than $2.5 Million. In cases where the broadcasters are new or 3% of their annual earnings is less than $2.5 Million, they’ll have to pay the annual licensing fee of $2.5 Million.

Speaking to the press at her South Road Law Office, the former Government Minister said the Broadcasting Authority is still in its infancy stage but she is pleased with the work it has done so far. She said the licensing fees were set by Cabinet and the Authority is focusing on implementation. Broadcasters who operate separate channels as in the case of NCN and WRHM, could find themselves paying fees for each of those channels. Spectrum fees are also being attached to the money the broadcasters would have to pay over.

Licenses have also been approved for cable operators but their fees are still to be set by the Cabinet, according to Ms. Shadick.

Asked about those companies and agencies that may have had applications for radio and television licenses before the GNBA was established, Shadick said “any application that was not made after the coming into force of the broadcast act is not an application that the GNBA will consider”. She said applications have to be made to the new Broadcasting Authority because there are specific pieces of documentation that would have to be provided as part of the application process. She said the Authority has received less than 10 new applications for radio and television licenses and those will be examined as soon as they are able to regularise the existing broadcasters.

The GNBA Chairman noted that as it is now, the broadcasting field in Guyana could compared to squatter settlements and there is a need for regularisation.

She named the National Communications Network which is state-owned and WRHM TV 7 as two of the existing broadcasters who are still to complete their applications to the GNBA to continue broadcasting.

With regard to the radio licenses that were issued by former President Bharrat Jagdeo just before he left office, she said they have been licensed to operate and will have to pay their fees too. Some of the radio stations have multiple frequencies for different parts of the country. She said Telecor Inc and Radio Guyana both have six frequencies each for broadcasting. Telecor is closely linked to Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud while Radio Guyana Inc. is owned by Dr. Bobby Ramroop who is a close friend of the former President. The New Guyana Company which is the home of the People Progressive Party’s Mirror Newspaper is still to submit its application to begin broadcasting. The company was granted a licenses by the former President who still sits on the executive of the PPP.

A number of broadcasters are already expressing their concerns about the licensing fees which they consider to be exorbitant. Some have also raised issue about all of the stations having to pay the similar fee when most of them are just restricted to broadcasting in a 50 mile radius.


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