-Chairman calls for lift in standards
said there was evidence of a breach of good taste and decency, through the broadcast of obscene language in songs and audiovisual content during primetime hours.
Following those preliminary hearings, two of the six broadcasters were referred to the GNBA’s Governing Board for formal hearings, with appropriate sanctions.
In its press release, the Authority said it stands vigorously against fundamental breaches of the Broadcasting legislation as its aim is to ensure the national airwaves are reflective of local and international best practices in broadcasting, with due sensitivity to those vulnerable groups in our society and more so, adherence to our legal and social obligations.
“The authority’s SIC is poised to deliver on its mandate, and will continue to address these matters, in an assiduous manner. It is important to note that the power is vested in the authority, through the Broadcasting Act of 2011, to suspend or cancel broadcast licences, as the authority deems appropriate, following the necessary inquiries,” the release added.
Speaking to Stabroek News at his Lamaha Street office, Sobers informed that the Board had taken a decision that for the time being, the identities of those broadcasters will be withheld.
“We still owe some duty of care to our broadcasters,” he said.
Speaking specifically about the infractions committed, Sobers said that the bulk involves music played and the quality of the discourse on the airwaves. However, he added that the low quality was applicable to radio and television. The GNBA also monitors cable.
He recounted hearing inappropriate content on a radio programme where two announcers were having their “own little private talk and they are oblivious to the fact that they are on national radio.” He said the “chit chat” during that programme was complemented with continuous sucking of teeth in one instance. “It was so meaningless; it added no value to the Guyanese society. It taught you nothing… It was small talk and it was nonsense,” he said before pointing out that entertainment and jokes on some programmes do have educational value.
Informing that there are sections of the Broadcasting Act which speak to good taste, Sobers reiterated that there is a lot of music being played as well as call-in shows and talk shows where the content is obscene and inappropriate and goes against “decency and good taste.”
He said the Authority’s Monitoring Department would listen and pick up the obscene language and flag those programmes. He showed Stabroek News three discs with copies of programmes which
which were flagged for violations. The identities of those programmes were not disclosed but said that the broadcaster would have provided copies of the programme following a request from the authority.
Sobers made it clear that the GNBA would note a problem only with the content of the programme, while adding that if a guest makes an inappropriate comment then that is the issue that would be dealt with.
He pointed out that broadcasting goes all over the world and while the audience has varying tastes, there is nothing that says one must accept “substandard” content.
Sobers pointed out that he has traveled to a number of countries and after listening to broadcasts there, it is clear that Guyana has a far way to go. He singled out Jamaica, where he says the programmes are above par and have suitable content for all of the listening public.
He said if a broadcaster goes before the SIC numerous times then all of that “will be added up” and sent to the Governing Board for a formal hearing. Charges, he said, will be laid and the errant broadcaster could choose to be accompanied by an attorney.
According to Sobers, since the life of the Board began, several consultations were held with broadcasters and the response has been encouraging. He said the thrust of those engagements is to encourage broadcasters to act in keeping with the law.
He said the Authority is contemplating accredited seminars, with assistance from relevant international agencies. GNBA, he says, want to improve the broadcasters’ perceptions of what is required of them, what is good taste and decency and then trust that they would present Guyana in a good light.
Meanwhile, Sobers informed that the entity plans to conduct a poll in which persons would identify the station or programmes they listen to and the ones they pay no attention to. The findings, he said, will be made public.
“We believe it is time we consult with our Guyanese, our listeners and viewership through surveys and polls to find out what are the people’s reaction to some of the things we are hearing on air because I can tell you there are some programmes that lend nothing to the quality of life, to the development of our citizenry,” he stressed.
He said that when the data is published, sponsors would decide whether they would continue to back certain programmes.
“The market will deal with it because if you have a programme on and it is given prime time and the nation says, ‘I don’t like that’…it makes no sense. The sponsors... will know my product is not going to get the listenership because people will start switching off from that programme,” he said.