Freedom Radio Incorporated, which is based in the headquarters of the opposition, People’s Progressive Party, is taking the Government and the Guyana Broadcasting Authority to Court over the recently passed and instituted, Broadcast Amendment Act.
In a court filing, Attorney and PPP Member of Parliament, Anil Nandall, wants the Court to declare that several sections of the Broadcasting Act are in contravention of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the radio station.
The Application to the Court seeks to nullify the Broadcast Amendment Act with all of the changes to the original Broadcast Bill, which was passed and signed into law when the PPP was in government.
In addition to the several declarations that it wants, Freedom Radio would also like the Court to grant it a Conservatory Order prohibiting the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority, from implementing, acting in accordance with or in any manner whatsoever enforcing the provisions of the Broadcasting Amendment Act 2017, Act No. 20 of 2017, until the hearing and determination of the application to the court. It is also seeking costs.
When the government took the Broadcast Amendment Bill to the National Assembly, it came in for wide criticism from the Opposition party with claims of the government wanting to curtail press freedoms. Majority of the amendments, according to the Government, sought to properly regularize the broadcast arena in Guyana and get illegal operators to fall in line and become legal.
Some local broadcasters along with the Guyana Press Association and other press groups had raised concern about broadcasters having to make some time available for public service announcements or broadcasts.
Freedom Radio is owned by the New Guyana Media company, which is the same company that owns the PPP’s Mirror newspaper. The radio station’s daily broadcast features several PPP politicians as hosts.