Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Destruction of the Media
(Aired 17 March 2004)

   The 2003 human rights report for Guyana has been available to the public for some time, our Stabroek News labelled it "as generally favourable" except for the fact that the police which was under effective civilian control were conducting unlawful killings, that the judiciary was under political control, that the Amerindians were being systematically stripped of their ancestral lands, that women and children were being brutalised with impunity since there is no formal social organisation such as a department of social services to protect them, child prostitution is rampant spreading AIDS within the society, trafficking in persons was a daily occurrence, money laundering and drug smuggling were rampant. And 35 % of the Guyanese public lived below the poverty line 21% in abject poverty! But all of this I will leave to members of the media to research and report on.

   Tonight I want to tell the International community that they are guilty of grossly underestimating the insidious nature of this Government's mutilation of the Private Electronic media in this country.

   The report itself tells us quote "the constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press and the government generally respected these rights in practice, however there were complaints of interference in the electronic media. Citizens openly criticised the government and its policies.

    The independent Stabroek news published a daily and a wide range of religious groups, political parties and journalists published a variety of private owned weekly newspapers the Government's daily newspaper, the Guyana Chronicle covered a broad spectrum of political and non governmental groups. Throughout the year however the Chronicle typically displayed a clear anti-opposition bias" end quote

   About the electronic media, the report says this, quote "in contrast to the government's tolerance to the print media, a growing number of journalists charged the government with failure to respect freedom of speech of the Electronic Media. The Government owned and operated the country's sole radio station, which broadcast on three frequencies, there are no private Radio stations, and private interests continued to criticize the government for its failure to approve requests for radio frequency authorisations. The Government maintained that it was unable to grant frequencies to private stations because there was no legislation governing their allocation. However despite a similar lack of legislation to govern television frequencies there were 12 Independent television stations in addition to the government station".

    So the US State Department smells the rat, but they do not fully appreciate the significance of it, the regulations that license television stations the wireless and telegraphy regulations chapter 47:01 and the amendments to section 23 subsections a-f of it, in addition to amendment 10 of the wireless telegraphy regulations have been put in place since 2001 and which will license and police all broadcasting; television and radio, so the Government has been less then honest in telling the US that quote "there are no regulations for either television and Radio" but then the US Embassy people in Guyana should understand by now, that our government is always very economical with the truth. Radio licenses will and can be properly licensed under the recently modified wireless and telegraphy regulations sections 23 a-f, and until the Broadcast Authority is formed radio stations can come under the purview of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting as television stations now do. 

   What have the Americans, the Guyana human Rights Association and Amnesty International missed? Well it so happens that they have completely missed the entire obscene agenda of the PPP Government as far as television is concerned.

    There are 12 television stations in addition to the Government's own GTV. GTV is heavily subsidised and obtains an annual subvention from the office of the president of between 50-100 million dollars each year since 1993, are competing with private broadcasters in the advertising market place, and are offering advertising packages as low as 15,000 Guyana dollars per month to play 7 ads per day, that works out to 48 Guyana dollars per advertisement,  whilst at the same time GBC, which holds the monopoly in radio broadcasting, charges $900 and $1400 for 30 second and one minute advertising, thus making Guyana the only place on the planet where advertising on radio is higher than advertising on television.

  Now ladies and gentlemen being the suspicious person that I am, I am forced to ask myself whether this is not a deliberate attempt on the part of the government to destroy the private TV broadcasters by undercutting them for television advertising keeping the income of the private broadcasters at a ridiculously low level, for the specific purpose of ensuring that private television broadcasters cannot earn enough to obtain the resources to challenge GTV or the government and its obscene propaganda agenda on GTV, the Chronicle, or GBC.       

   Remember that the Chronicle was accused in the State Department's report as being anti opposition, well so is GBC and GTV.  How could the US state Department have missed this? Especially since part of the plan is to cause the systematic destruction of private television broadcasters and is a direct thereat to freedom of speech in the electronic media.

     I'll tell you why they missed it, they missed it because we don't have a vibrant and fully functional broadcasting community, with enough power to make them listen, we are for example not equipped to hire highly investigative and skilled reporters and staff, I don't want to tick off my friends Adam Harrris and Clem David just to name two, so let me make this as plain as I can, I am not saying that we have none, I am saying that we cannot afford to employ enough highly skilled people and researchers to really function as a proper watchdog of this democracy, that we say we have.

       So the public must put in perspective their perception, that anyone who works in Television in Guyana are amateurish, we mostly cannot verify our information, we have little of no international connections, we have no PR departments of highly skilled staff who can bring this atrocity and other atrocities to the attention of the international community, that as soon as our reporters acquire any sort of skills they depart for other shores or other jobs, I challenge anyone to tell me how we will develop an industry of fully trained and probing investigative reporters, when GTV is there specifically to ensure that we can't, financed by these subventions from the office of the President, to ensure that we continue to be incapable of generating any real revenue. This will no doubt continue now that GTV and GBC have merged the advertising rate of 48 dollars an Ad. on GTV I have given you, was obtained on Friday 11th March 2004 from them, after the merger of GBC and GTV.

   As if to add insult to injury, but it is part of the master plan to destroy the private Television media, the Government Information News Agency [GINA] recruits heavily from the private media in this country, they have taken at least four important people from me alone over the past 5 years, and they are paying some very fancy salaries over there at GINA, triple what other government employees get and far more than any private broadcaster can afford to pay. The PPP ministers may be incompetent, they may be bungling through their daily chores, but everyone is missing the agenda of the diabolical core of the PPP that is giving these same incompetent ministers their orders.