When all of this commentary business started, I made
some promises to my self and to the public.
I promised myself that I would not use it as a personal
tool to further my own agenda but that I would castigate anyone, ANYONE ladies
and gentlemen, who decided to attack me because of them, since I felt that I
was being fair, impartial and honest in the way I researched and presented the
comments to the public. I cannot manufacture good news ladies and gentlemen, I
can only comment on what I see.
By and large I have discharged those promises both to
myself and to the public with a clear conscience. I have stayed away from rumor
and innuendo I have stayed away from any matter that affected me personally. I
have for example made no comment on the matter presently before the courts
concerning Roraima Trust and Investments Ltd. I have made no comment on the FM
station 100.5 that I put on the air in June 2001.
On the evening of the 4th December 2001 Dr.
Roger Luncheon told the public that I was warned of the repercussions of
broadcasting the FM signal without a license and that his government properly
and legally seized my equipment.
Ladies and gentlemen political discrimination is
outlawed by our constitution, it nevertheless occurs daily everywhere around
us, our winner takes all system of government guarantees it. But these breaches
of our constitution daily are still wrong, and must stop. The awarding of
contracts to do our public works in a discriminatory manner is a breach of our
constitution. Anytime you see a bridge or a road being built near to your home
and you know that the road is not being properly built because the builder was
chosen not for his competence but because he is a friend of some one at freedom
house the constitution is being breached. Anytime you see someone doing his job
incompetently, but were appointed because of his political affiliation the
constitution was breached.
Having said all of this let me return to the good
Dr. Luncheon stated that I was warned that what I was
doing was wrong, and therefore he had the right to remove me from the air and
in so doing deprive me of my property.
The fact is that I told Dr. Luncheon, through his Prime
Minister, that what HE was doing was wrong, discriminatory and unconstitutional
and that I will challenge him to show why the government has not enforced its
own regulations and since 1992 everyone and anyone has been allowed to put up a
television station without being required to apply to anyone for permission to
do so, but at the same time ANYONE who tried to put up a radio station were
told that they were breaking the law. It is the same law that requires a
license for Television broadcast as for radio broadcast.
Ladies and gentlemen the oxford dictionary I have in my
possession defines hypocrisy, as, simulation of virtue, pretense, pretending to
be virtuous. Anyone who has one law and uses that law in a discriminatory
fashion is only simulating virtue and is therefore a hypocrite.
Our courts will now decide if Dr. Luncheon or I am
right, but whatever I did, I was not simulating anything, and until this
government grants that ONE license to a private individual they have broken
their own constitutional laws. At this time ladies and gentlemen the bipartisan
committees, the advisory boards, the pretense at wanting to rectify the
broadcast landscape, are all irrelevant and immaterial, until that one radio
broadcast license is given to a private individual, the government in this
country have awarded themselves a monopoly in radio and have used a big stick
on anyone who dared to attempt to broadcast a radio signal and that is,
discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Since broadcasting is on the agenda tonight let me say
a few things about recent developments regarding it.
As a result of the Jagdeo/Hoyte dialog and the
bipartisan committee on broadcasting that arose from it, we were promised an
advisory committee which will function in much the same way as an interim
broadcasting authority and will enforce the regulations for broadcasting, we
were promised by the act itself establishing this committee a group of persons
who were Quote "knowledgeable and with recognized competence in matters
relating to broadcasting"
The tribunal that resulted consists of Mr. Pat Dyal who
was nominated by the president, Mr Ron Case who was nominated by the Leader of
the opposition and Mr. Carlton James who was nominated by the private sector.
Let the discourse begin as to the qualifications of these gentlemen to direct
the philosophy of broadcasting, the regulations that must accompany it, and the
legislation that it needs to direct it, I respectfully submit that NOT one of
these gentlemen is competent or qualified to do that.
Furthermore ladies and gentlemen why did the bipartisan
board agree to allow the National frequency management unit to fall outside of
this tribunal's terms of reference? Was everyone in the opposition on that
board sleeping? unfortunately they can't make that claim, since I personally
pointed out the danger of having the NFMU being controlled by the minister of
communications and not the interim advisory board to them. Mr. Hoyte should now
call in every member he nominated to that board and tear their ears out, it is
obviously a useless appendage.
The tribunal however incompetent they might be to
regulate or legislate broadcasting is at least bipartisan, NOT SO the NFMU, so
the government can penalize anyone by using the NFMU to harass them, and the
way the regulations are crafted the tribunal is powerless to stop it. If only
one political group gets radio or television licenses, the tribunal is
powerless to stop it, what was the point of the exercise in the first place?
The advisory committee are not required by the regulations
and have no authority to advise the PM on the issuance of a TV or Radio license
the committee can only advise the PM on matters of programming content. The
NFMU remains solely responsible for advising the PM on frequency allocation and
technical requirements for license.
Here is how it should work, and I am guided here by the
Federal Communications Commission of the United States, very much what our
broadcast tribunal is intended to do.
A person wants to become a broadcaster, he/she apply to
the tribunal, the tribunal examines the marketplace to ensure that another
service in that area is necessary or desirable and that the marketplace is
capable of supporting another service, the tribunal decides to grant the
license or NOT, if they do decide to grant the license they then direct the
NFMU to grant a frequency, in keeping with the frequency allocation appropriate
to that area of the country where the license is being applied for.
So ....what has all of this bipartisan board for
broadcasting fiasco left us with? Well I believe that they growled, roared and
labored and gave birth to a mouse.
Here is what we are left with, the prime minister and
the NFMU completely controlled by the government in power, ANY government in
power, gives a license, a frequency and permission to import all the equipment
a broadcaster needs to set up a broadcast, having imported all of this
equipment he then puts his signal on the air, THEN and ONLY THEN is it
necessary for him to approach the tribunal for the rules he will be required to
follow as a broadcaster. The tribunal has no real say in who can or cannot
become broadcasters, it is completely insane, if anyone had told me that the
PPP had the brain power to out maneuver anyone, I would not have believed it.
Kit Nascimento and Hugh Cholomondeley the only two media
professionals qualified to advise on broadcasting regulations in Guyana have
consistently advised in favor of a single independent broadcast authority and
that there must be no discrimination in issuing TV and Radio licenses.
Government has chosen to ignore their advise which was submitted in writing
since September last year. Amazingly the PNC members of the
commission have capitulated and clearly the private sector commission has not
bothered to understand the issues involved.
Kit and Hugh realised that what I was
saying since 1996 is true, THIS government does not want to regulate
broadcasting, and they want to control it. They are welcome to regulate,
but control of it, went out with the iron curtain and has no place in a
We broadcasters are left with no alternative now, but to
devise mechanisms to protect ourselves, and away we go to court, the
international human rights organization, the international institute for
democracy, the United Nations' UNESCO and the United States Embassy, AGAIN.
We are resolved not to allow the NFMU to be out there as
an independent entity gumming up the works with a definite political agenda and
the power of the state behind them, a state which by its own track record does
not understand its own laws, but nevertheless uses a big stick to enforce them
in a discriminatory fashion. It is, we will contend, unconstitutional.
Only when a qualified bipartisan advisory committee
assumes full control of the NFMU will this problem resolve itself. Since
neither I or the broadcasters I represent have any confidence that the prime
minister or the NFMU will enforce the regulations for any of us with the same
impartially as they will for GTV or GBC.
I do not intend to lose any of these wars, Dr. Roger, a
battle or two is irrelevant, the WAR is what is important. By the way Dr Roger,
Mr. Sharma was given permission and a license to broadcast on channel 6 VHF all
television transmissions have a video carrier which is AM and an Audio carrier
which is FM. The audio carrier of channel 6 VHF is 87.75 Megahertz FM, the
official frequency of channel ONE in the FM band is 88.1 Megahertz, you CANNOT
remove Sharma's audio from 87.75 MHz without taking his
entire TV channel off the air, it is not Sharma's fault that the TV audio he
has which was allocated by you, is being received on some FM radios which are
capable of tuning in audio frequencies below 88.1 MHz, if you had a competent
NFMU advising you, you would know this.