September 30, 2016

PM hosts stakeholder consultation

Region 10 television station controversy

– media locked out of meeting

By Utamu Belle

On the heels of controversy surrounding ownership of a television station for Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who holds responsibility for public information, hosted a stakeholder consultation in Linden on Monday.

Head of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) Leonard Craig, Regional Chairman Renis Morian, Linden Interim Management Committee (IMC) Chairman Orrin Gordon and former Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon were among those who attended the meeting.

While members of the media were not allowed to be part of the meeting, Director of Public Information and Press Secretary Imran Khan, in providing an update afterwards, explained that it was held in relation to the issue of the return of the television station to the Linden community and its environs.

The issue dates back to an agreement signed in 2012 between the then Administration and the Region for the setting up of a regional television station.

However, recently, an issue arose between the previous and present Regional Chairman regarding the station’s ownership. Both claimed to have received letters from the GNBA to move ahead with the process. Khan said a letter was sent to the present RDC as a result of an error made by a staff. He said all correspondence was intended for former Chairman Solomon, who has since moved to form a trust company” to move the station forward.

A few weeks ago, Morian called for a cease order following progress by the Trust Company to have the station set up.

Khan related that the meeting was very fruitful and it was made very clear by Nagamootoo that the issue of a return of the television station to the Region was not up for discussion and the process would move forward. This, he said, was also agreed to by stakeholders at the meeting.

“The Chairman of the GNBA explained in the meeting that based on what the law provides, they could not engage with the RDC, they had to engage with a trust company … being representative of the people of Linden and Region 10 … the letter that was sent to the RDC was done in error by a staff of the GNBA … the communication was being done by the Trust Company which the RDC had written to the GNBA indicating is the entity applying on behalf of the people of Linden,” he stated.

In reflecting, Khan said the process had started immediately after the general elections period when Solomon would have been the RDC Chairman, noting that it had continued, since, as the law outlines, the RDC was not permitted to own a television station.

“So the application which was made to the GNBA was adjusted and that was explained at the consultation by the Chairman of the GNBA by Mr Leonard Craig…The application was first made in the name of a company, which was then changed to a trust, representing what the Prime Minister at the time understood to be representative of the entire Region 10 community and on that basis, the process moved forward,” Khan said.

He further explained that prior to that, a letter was received by the GNBA from the RDC, empowering the GNBA to proceed in discussions with regard to the licence for the Region 10 Broadcasting Trust Company previously called the Region 10 Broadcasting Inc (RBI).

“It was on that basis that the GNBA moved forward with the process and it was on that basis from the political side with regard to that agreement…the 2012 agreement, that Prime Minister would have moved forward…there was a level of misinformation, there was a level of confusion, it would have appeared, and there was a level of dissatisfaction and given that he did not want to move forward in that sort of environment, he thought it best to engage in this consultation,” Khan disclosed.

He further stated that there has been a commitment for further meetings involving stakeholders in Linden to discuss and clarify legal issues regarding the Trust Company. He said upon completion of the meetings, a report would be provided to the Prime Minister, adding that Government was committed to putting everything in place, including the issuing of a licence, as soon as the issues were resolved.

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