GNBA is another political circus

Lady/Water No Get Enemy by. Fela Kuti

The new Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) is another political circus

Written by realTalk – Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The recent establishment of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) will not inspire much confidence among many Guyanese, who see this new entity as nothing but a PPP-led broadcast overlord. With the exception of the token PNCR member Sherwood Lowe, the rest of the authority reads like a who’s who of the PPP. Can Guyanese expect this new entity to objectively administer the broadcast spectrum in Guyana? Will perceived potential ‘opposition’ media owners be treated fairly with regard to their applications for broadcast licenses?

Upon observation, one would find that there is nothing national about the GNBA. At least the composition of its members ought not to have been heavily comprised PPP lackeys and supporters led by a former minister who has absolutely no clue about broadcast administration. It appears as if the government has set up this circus with its friends and a token opposition member to ensure that institutionalized broadcast marginalization continues unabated in Guyana.             

This PPP-led government has never demonstrated any interest in sensibly deregulating the broadcast industry in Guyana. It is long past a decade since the broadcast legislation surfaced and nothing has been achieved since, with the exception of the creation of this sinister authority. After 20 years of ‘democratic’ governance, Guyana still has one government run radio station!

The way the government and its so called ‘national entities’ behave, one can be very confident that this new broadcast authority will bend benignly to the will of the government, and the lone opposition voice will cry out helplessly in the wilderness of party patronage, marginalization and unfairness.

Perhaps a more objective set of nominees could have been sought from across the country to truly have the GNBA reflect a wider cross section of Guyanese professionals with significant experience in the broadcast industry. While many could argue that there are no stipulations for those selected to be part of the GNBA to have media experience or training, common sense could have lead the way for the government to find at least a greater majority of the nominees with significant exposure in broadcast and broadcast legislation. This would have given greater credibility to the GNBA. The names of three distinguished gentlemen and at least one lady immediately surface; but unfortunately their perceived political affiliations and not their outstanding professionalism and service to broadcasting in Guyana might have determined their exclusion from a body such as the GNBA.

Did the government try contacting Messieurs Ron Robinson, Enrico Woolford or Kit Nascimento to be members of the GNBA? What about Margaret Lawerence, was she contacted? Did these folks decline appointment to the GNBA?

Broadcast authorities serve a variety of purposes which includes licensing and regulating broadcast services, regulating the use of receiving apparatuses, ensuring adherence of public service broadcasting obligations by broadcasting licensees, establishing guidelines for programming , developing quality broadcast standards and the collection of license fees. They can also help to build a well-informed, culturally-rich, socially cohesive and economically-vibrant society. In Guyana, it is expected that among other related duties the GNBA will also be tasked with monitoring developments in the broadcast industry to determine the pace at which the market could be further liberalized.

Can the GNBA be counted on by Guyanese to do its job objectively, professionally, and free of political interference?

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