MOTION ATTACHMENT To the Press Conference on Thursday, December 8, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia
MOTION FOR THE EQUITABLE ACCESS OF PARLIAMENTARY POLITICAL PARTIES TO THE STATE-OWNED MEDIA
Mr Deryck Bernard, MP, to move the following motion:
Whereas the constitutionally-guaranteed right of freedom of expression enshrined in Article 146 (1) of the Guyana Constitution, includes the freedom to hold opinions, to receive ideas and information and to communicate ideas and information without interference;
And Whereas the Report of the Joint Committee on Radio Monopoly, Non-Partisan Boards And Broadcasting Legislation, which was established by agreement between the late Mr H. Desmond Hoyte and President Jagdeo in May 2001, recommends that the State-owned media should, “in line with their public-service function, provide news and current affairs coverage of the views, statements, activities and policies of political parties in a manner that is partial, balanced and accurate, thereby allowing the public to make informed political choices”, and “facilitate political parties and candidates in their right of reply.”
And Whereas the Memorandum of Understanding For The Support Of The Next General Elections In Guyana, signed on 20 July 2005, between the Government of Guyana, GECOM and Donors, stipulates that GECOM must “ facilitate agreement on appropriate arrangements for equitable access to the state media by political parties during the campaign”;
And Whereas the State-owned Media continues to be dominated by coverage of Government activities and views (providing insignificant coverage of the views and activities of the Parliamentary Opposition) and by coverage of the views and activities of the PPP/C (providing insignificant coverage of the views and activities of the other Parliamentary Political Parties);
And Whereas direct access to the State-owned Media is overwhelmingly biased in favour of the Government, with very little coverage given to the Parliamentary Opposition;
Be It Resolved that this National Assembly calls upon the Government to direct that all State-owned Media, should be obligated to provide adequate coverage of the views and activities of all Parliamentary Parties and facilitate equitable access of these Parties to their facilities for the direct publication of their views and activities, in addition to their obligation to report Government statements and activities;
Be It Further Resolved that this National Assembly requests the Government:
1) To ensure that the obligation of the State-owned Media to provide, by 31 January 2006, arrangements and facilities to adequately cover the views and activities of all Parliamentary Parties;
2) To facilitate equitable access of these Parties to their facilities for the direct publication of their views and activities;
3) To direct that these arrangements should apply both during and outside of the campaign periods for National and Regional Elections;
4) To implement their obligations in accordance with the principles which are contained in the Schedule to this Motion.
Mr Deryck Bernard, MP
8 December 2005.
FOR THE EQUITABLE ACCESS OF PARLIAMENTARY POLITICAL PARTIES TO THE STATE-OWNED MEDIA
1. PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITIES
• The State media have an obligation to give full and appropriate coverage to the work of parliament and its committees.
• All programming of the nature of interviews, debates or panel discussions, and which focuses on parliamentary issues, must make allowances for the fair participation of representatives of parliamentary political parties, either during a single program or over a short period of time.
• The state media must make specific allocation of balanced broadcast of parliamentary political parties based on their parliamentary strength.
2. COVERAGE OF THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
There should be a regular current affairs programme summarising the activities and presentations of the Leader of the Opposition.
3. COVERAGE OF THE VIEWS AND ACTIVITIES OF OPPOSITION PARTIES
• News releases by the major opposition party must be reported in appropriate form.
• The state media is obligated to cover major activities of events of opposition parties.
• Specifically, the state media shall be obligated to attend and report on press conferences and press briefings of the opposition parties.
• All programming of the nature of viewpoints must allow for the participation of representatives of political parties in accordance with a formula based on the distribution of parliamentary seats.
4. RIGHT OF REPLY
The opposition must have the right of reply to statements and programmes that comment on, or criticise, their positions. Specifically, the right of reply shall accompany major speeches, press conferences, and broadcasts of both the government and the majority party in a timely and similar manner.
5. ELECTION CAMPAIGNS
• In accordance with the recommendation of joint committee on Radio Monopoly, Non-Partisan Boards And Broadcast Legislation, access of political parties and candidates to the State media during the election campaign period shall be based on objective and fair criteria governing allocation methods, airing times, and qualification thresholds.
• The election season is defined as the period starting four months before the constitutionally-due date of the next election.
6. DIRECT ACCESS TO THE STATE MEDIA BY PARTIES
• All parliamentary parties will be entitled to minimum of five minutes free broadcast on state media plus three minutes per seat per week for all parliamentary parties that received more than 5% of the votes at the previous elections.
• One half of the allocation will be in prime time.
7. MONITORING AND ENFORCEMENT
• The responsibility for ensuring the state media comply with these rules and responsibilities shall rest with the Board of Directors of the State Media.
• The Boards of Directors of the state media shall file monthly reports to the National Assembly on the time allocated to political parties.
• GECOM must have special responsibilities for ensuring the state media comply with these rules and responsibilities during the election season.
8 December 2005.
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