Month: July 2016

Letter to the Editor: Is Freedom of Speech still in Crisis?

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The management of Blackman & Sons, Inc. is a bit perplexed over the continued silence regarding the decision of the Guyana National Broadcasting Association (GNBA) as to whether or not to grant the corporation its broadcasting license for its radio station operation.

The Media corporation is also the same corporation that owns and operates the local television station, HBTV Channel 9. It had submitted its first radio license application in or about 1992 prior to the 1992 elections.  This application has never had a decision. Thereafter the then new administration, in a different political party assumed control over the administration of the government and the processing of the license application.  The corporation’s managing director, Eve Blackman, for over 20 years has been pursuing a decision on this license application; however, there has been no response regarding countless inquiries made, and further and more importantly, no decision has been considered on the application.  The corporation sent in another application a few years ago during the last administration.  Prior to the end of the last administration the then government granted  a series of broadcasting licenses for individuals, corporations and other entities that, for the most part, were commenced post BSI’s application and furthermore, they all applied for the their licenses years after BSI’s application was submitted for consideration.  The application was obviously ignored.

This new coalition government and its administration, apparently, has taken the same position as its predecessors and has failed to make any decision on the application of the corporation for licensing to perform its radio broadcast operations.  This blatant administrative failure to issue the license is a clear violation of the law and an abuse of lawful discretion of the management and board of the GNBA.

Approximately 9 months ago managing Director, Mrs. Blackman, contacted Mr. Leonard Craig regarding the License applications and he stated that “it was being worked on”.  The new administration has taken its seat in government for over one year and still, to date the GNBA has failed and continues to fail to properly respond to the inquiry of the managing director, Eve Blackman; and even more disappointing, to render a decision on the corporation’s licensing application. However, and sorrowful to say the point and time for a cognizable response has since gone.

At this juncture, based upon the government’s continuing inability, incapacity or unwillingness to process the corporation’s application in combination with other actions by the GNBA against the corporation, BSI must at this point take into consideration that it has been “BLACKLISTED” from inclusion in the broadcasting sector of the country with the intent to further continue to strangle the life from corporation for no recognizable reason that could be considered.

Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy in this Republic and BSI has made its airwaves, through HBTV Channel 9 available to any and all who wished to use the station, and without discrimination regarding sex, religion, race, ethnicity or gender.  For some, they have had use of the channel’s airwaves most extensively and at most favorable conditions for both the present and previous government administrations; therefore the reason for treatment being dealt to Channel 9 is unwarranted, unjust, illegal and as stated, the source of perplexing and confusing sentiments among board members.

It appears as though this may be a matter that only a court of law can fix.  However, it is hoped that it will not come to that.

Despite the previous and present government’s administration’s (through the GNBA), treatment of the corporation and its radio license application, BSI who has always remained silent on major issues affecting it.  Now it has been forced to become vocal and proactive on the issues affecting it. As a result, of the disrespect, disregard and ultimate disgust, BSI is at this time preparing to commence its radio broadcast operations on August 1, 2016 via both air-waves and internet.   Despite this position that the corporation has been forced to take on the matter it will be immediately taking steps to deal with finally resolving the issues between the corporation and the administrative body surrounding the multiple undecided applications.

Within the coming weeks we shall be moving the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority to  further assess the matter and make a decision.  Otherwise, we shall be forced to seek legal counsel on other legal remedies.

By:  Denise Melville-Blackman, Esq.