Granger snubs con­cerns of broad­cast­ers, int’l or­gan­i­sa­tions

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David Granger has snubbed the con­cerns raised by lo­cal and global stake­hold­ers re­gard­ing the amend­ments to the coun­try’s broad­cast­ing laws, not­ing that the changes are nec­es­sary to en­sure there is no in­for­ma­tion deficit.

“We have an obli­ga­tion to en­sure that all cor­ners of the coun­try re­ceive pub­lic info about what is tak­ing place and if peo­ple don’t know what’s go­ing on be­cause the me­dia is not cov­er­ing cer­tain types of is­sues, I think there will be an in­for­ma­tion deficit,” Granger told me­dia op­er­a­tives Wed­nes­day morn­ing in a quick in­ter­view on the side­lines of an event at State House.

Pri­vate sec­tor of­fi­cials and in­ter­na­tional press free­dom ad­vo­cacy groups have called on the Pres­i­dent to de­fer his as­sent to the Bill in or­der to fa­cil­i­tate con­sul­ta­tions with pri­vate broad­cast­ers about their con­cerns with the amend­ments to the leg­is­la­tion.

Op­er­a­tors are wor­ried that the changes will have grave im­pli­ca­tions on their busi­nesses and that it in­fringes upon press free­dom. The two con­tentious is­sues of the Broad­cast­ing Bill are the re­quire­ments for broad­cast­ers to air pub­lic ser­vice con­tent as am­bigu­ously de­fined by the law for 60 min­utes every day for free and for their li­cences to be ter­mi­nated with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, thus forc­ing them to reap­ply within 30 days with­out guar­an­tees of re­gain­ing their li­cence or re­ceiv­ing their same spec­trum.

But Granger in­sisted that “a lot of thought” went into the craft­ing of the Bill.

“The Cabi­net de­cided to be in support of the Bill and that’s why we went to par­lia­ment with it,” the Pres­i­dent stated.

He called on the crit­ics to be aware of the pe­cu­liar na­ture of Guyana and the need to en­sure that all com­mu­ni­ties are given ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion.

“I would like to ask the crit­ics of the broad­cast­ing bill to see both side of the pic­ture,” he said, not­ing that per­sons in far-flung ar­eas would some­times be in dire need of up­dates on se­cu­rity and other emer­gency mat­ters – and that the pri­vate me­dia has a role to play in pro­vid­ing that in­for­ma­tion.

News Room un­der­stands that some pri­vate broad­cast­ers are con­tem­plat­ing tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against the State to stop the Broad­cast­ing Bill to come into force.

The Pri­vate Sec­tor Com­mis­sion ( PSC), t he Ge­orge­town Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try (GCCI), the Guyana Press As­so­ci­a­tion (GPA), the In­ter­na­tional Press In­sti­tute (IPI), the Re­porters With­out Border (RSF) and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Caribbean Me­dia Work­ers (ACMW) are some of the en­ti­ties that have mounted op­po­si­tion against the changes to the broad­cast­ing leg­is­la­tion. The par­lia­men­tary op­po­si­tion have also re­jected the amend­ments.

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