Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Luncheon FM
(Aired 5 December 2001)

    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 doctor's comments.

     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 democracy.

    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.