PRESS STATEMENT - Friday 4 March 2011
â�¢ The PNCR extends condolences to the family and relatives of Doreen Gordon of Mocha and Ina Elain Semple of Goed Fortuin, West Bank, Demerara;
â�¢ The PNCR Special Congress has elected Mr. David Granger, Retâ��d Brigadier as its Presidential Candidate for the 2011 General Elections;
â�¢ A delegation from the Peoples Republic of China held discussions with the PNCR during a high level visit to Guyana;
â�¢ The continuing abuse of NCN Radio and Television by the PPP/C Administration has become so endemic. Guyanese must now contemplate an appropriate response. This could include launching a private radio in light of Governmentâ��s refusal to implement the recommendations of the Joint Committee on RADIO MONOPOLY, NON-PARTISAN BOARDS and BROADCASTING LEGISLATION. This included the passage of Broadcast Legislation, the establishment of an independent broadcasting Authority and the licensing of Private radio stations.
The Leader, Members of the Central Executive Committee, and members of the Peopleâ��s National Congress Reform convey our condolences to the family, relatives and friends of the late Mrs. Doreen Gordon of Mocha and Ina Elain Semple, mother of Party activist, Ms. Joyce Semple.
Doreen Gordon died on Friday 25th February 2011 after a long and illustrious life â�� she was 82 years old. She joined the Party in 1955 and worked alongside persons such as Ms. Jane Philips-Gay. She served as Co-ordinator of Mocha Womenâ��s Group which manufactured cassava bread and cassareep. She helped organize the Mocha/Arcadia Consumer Co-op and chaired the Mocha/Arcadia PNC Group for a number of years. She was a member of the Regional Democratic Council, Region #4 from 1985 to 1997 and served as a member of the Local Board of Guardians, a Social Worker, and as a practicing Christian she was fully involved in activities at her church where she served at a high management level.
Her funeral service will take place on Saturday 5th March 2011 at the St. Matthews Anglican Church, Providence at 15:00 hrs (3:00 pm).
Ina Elain Semple died on Wednesday 23rd February 2011 after a brief illness â�� she was 84 years, 11 months and 13 days of age. In a moving funeral service at the Goed Fortuin Methodist Church on Tuesday last, 1st March, Lennox Semple, the eldest of her children spoke about her almost singlehanded management of her brood, bringing them up in the fear of God, and in the love of school, family and community. Both Lennox and Joyce, the eldest of her children are activists of our Party, Joyce being a serving member of the Regional Democratic Council of Region #3, Essequibo Islands/West Demerara. Party General Secretary, Mr. Oscar Clarke attended the funeral service and offered condolences to the grieving family on behalf of the Party.
May their souls rest in Peace!
PNCR ELECTS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AT SPECIAL CONGRESS
On Saturday 26th February last, the PNCR elected its Presidential Candidate at a Special Delegates Congress. This Congress was the culmination of an elaborate six month democratic process that involved its entire membership and the wider Guyanese society. On Monday 28th February, the PNCR issued a Press Release which gave all the details of the Congress. In that Release, the Party expressed sincere thanks to all Guyanese, and more particularly, it members, delegates and observers to the Special Delegates Congress as well as the five Presidential Nominees for participating and contributing to the successful conclusion of the PNCR Presidential Candidate Process.
More than one thousand delegates and observers from the ten (10) Regions of Guyana and the North American and the United Kingdom Regions of the Party, participated in the historic event of the First Primaries for a Presidential Candidate for any political party in Guyana.
The accreditation Committee, which was chaired by Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and Central Executive Committee Member, Mrs. Clarissa Riehl, M.P., and included all five Presidential Nominees, made special arrangements to ensure maximum transparency of the process. At the conclusion of the Elections, the Returning Officer, Mr. Earl John of Sandra V. Jones Associates, declared Retired Brigadier, Mr. David Granger as the winner. In his acceptance speech, Brigadier Granger pledged to work with all the Nominees and the Party to ensure that the dictatorial PPP/C regime is removed from Office at the forthcoming General and Regional Elections later this year.
The PNCR is proud to have led the way in initiating a system of Primaries in Guyana. The Party is now ready in collaboration with all interested Parties to mount a successful challenge to remove the PPP/C from Office at the next General and Regional Elections.
PNCR MEETS CHINESE DELEGATION
On Wednesday 2nd March 2011, a delegation from the Communist Party of China met with representatives of the Peopleâ��s National Congress Reform at Congress Place Sophia. The six (6) member Chinese delegation was headed by Vice-Minister of the International Department of Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, (CPC), Mr. Chen Fengxiang, while the Leader of the Peopleâ��s National Congress Reform and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., headed the PNCR delegation which included, General Secretary, Mr. Oscar Clarke, PNCR Presidential Candidate, Mr. David Granger, and Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Clarissa Riehl.
Vice-Minister Fengxiang, who along with his delegation, were in Guyana for a two day visit, conveyed the greetings of his Party to the PNCR while at the same time expressing appreciation for the long and friendly ties between the two parties. The two sides shared their perspectives of developments in China and Guyana and re-affirmed their determination to continue and maintain good relations between our two parties and between Guyana and the Peopleâ��s Republic of China.
Mr. Corbin wished the Chinese Delegation a satisfactory stay in Guyana and expressed appreciation to the Chinese for their continued assistance to Guyana since the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the two countries under the PNCR Government led by PNC Founder Leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. Meanwhile, PNCR Presidential Candidate, Mr. David Granger pointed to the similarities between Western China and Western Guyana noting that these areas are not yet fully developed. He also expressed the hope for continued good relations with the people and Government of the Peopleâ��s Republic of China.
The Chinese Delegation included Deputy Director General, Bureau of Latin American Affairs, International Department of Central Committee of the CPC, Mr. Wang Yulin; Deputy Division Director, Bureau of Latin Affairs, International Department of Central Committee of the CPC, Ms. Tang Xiaoquin; Third Secretary, Bureau of Latin American Affairs, International Department of Central Committee of the CPC, Ms. Zhao Yan; Third Secretary, General Office, International Department of Central Committee of the CPC, Mr. Liu Yongjie; and Interpreter, Mr. Zhang Ke.
CONTINUED ABUSE OF NCN BY THE PPP MUST CEASE
The continuing abuse of NCN Radio and Television by the PPP/C Administration has become so endemic. Guyanese must now contemplate an appropriate response. This could include launching a private radio in light of Governmentâ��s refusal to implement the recommendations of the Joint Committee on RADIO MONOPOLY, NON-PARTISAN BOARDS and BROADCASTING LEGISLATION. This included the passage of Broadcast Legislation, the establishment of an independent broadcasting Authority and the licensing of Private radio stations.
The PNCR, over the past months, had cause to draw attention to the reckless misuse of the NCN radio and television for the dissemination of blatant untruths and misinformation under the guise of news. One recent example was a fabricated news item about the launching ceremony for the UN International Year for People of African Descent. This incorrectly reported that the Leader of the Opposition was participating in the Opening ceremony, contrary to a press release from his Office that stated exactly the opposite of what was reported.
The NCNâ��s 6:00 pm Newscast, on Monday 28th February 2011, published another fabricated news report read by Tracy Ramalo. This concerned the PNCR's Special Congress on Saturday 26th February 2011 at Congress Place Sophia at which the PNCRâ��s Presidential Candidate was elected. The news report was a complete distortion of events. Despite a subsequent clarification by the appointed Returning Officer, the NCN repeated its distorted report and made no attempt to offer an apology.
With the maintenance of the NCN radio monopoly in Guyana, Guyanese who are beyond the reach of Private television have been subjected to a diet of misinformation in violation of their constitutional right to freedom of information. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. With the General and Regional Elections constitutionally due before the end of 2011, that would be equivalent to the subversion of the democratic process. Consequently, unless the Government immediately implements the recommendations of the Joint Committee on RADIO MONOPOLY, NON-PARTISAN BOARDS and BROADCASTING LEGISLATION, Guyanese may have no alternative than to take matters into their own hands. The PPP needs to be reminded that the UK Government was forced to licence private radio after they were bombarded by a plethora of pirate radio stations in that country. The gravity of the situation demands that the PNCR addresses this issue comprehensively in this weekâ��s Press Statement.
Appointment & Terms of Reference
After the 2001 Election, the late Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, S.C., M.P., magnanimously agreed with President Jagdeo to establish several bi-Partisan Task Forces/Committees: these included the Local Government Reform; Border and National Security Issues, including Recapitalisation of the GDF; National Policy on Distribution of Land and House Lots; Bauxite Resuscitation; Marginalised/ Depressed Community Needs; and Radio Monopoly and Non Partisan Boards. The joint committee on RADIO MONOPOLY, NON-PARTISAN BOARDS and BROADCASTING LEGISLATION was set up in May 2001. The committeeâ��s Terms of Reference required attention to six specific issues (i) the state monopoly in radio broadcast, (ii) a non-partisan Board for the Chronicle, (iii) a non-partisan Board for the GTV, (iv) a non-partisan Board for the GBC, (v) a non-partisan Board for the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU), and (vi) the enactment of broadcast legislation.
Mr. Deryck Bernard â�� Co-chairperson; Roysdale Forde, Sherwood Lowe, Ronald Case and Enrico Woolford were appointed by the Leader of the Opposition. Gail Teixeira â�� Co-chairperson; Dr. Bheri Ramsarran, Clement Rohee, Kemraj Ramjattan and Dr. Prem Misir were appointed by the President. However, Clement Rohee and Kemraj Ramjattan did not take up their appointments and Dr. Frank Anthony was subsequently appointed in July 2001. The Committee held ten full meetings, including an all day session on 1st July 2001. The report of that Committee, which was signed by both co-chairpersons, stated that all recommendations were arrived at by consensus.
The report stated that:
â��In examining the issues and practices surrounding broadcasting, the committee took cognizance of important international broadcast principles and developments in communication (with specific reference to the electronic media and use of the electro-magnetic spectrum), information technologies, broadcast regulations and public policy.â��
In dealing with a Broadcasting Policy Framework for Guyana, the Committee recommended that any broadcast legislation or regulation governing the use of the spectrum must be guided and underpinned by a set of general principles and policies whose objectives should include, inter alia,
â�¢ To establish a single broadcasting system, comprising public state-owned, commercial private, and community broadcast services, regulated and supervised by a single independent public authority.
â�¢ To ensure that, while recognizing the special role of state-owned media, the broadcast industry is nevertheless open to fair competition, and therefore all monopolies, whether private or state, should be removed or not be allowed.
â�¢ To ensure wide geographic availability and accessibility of broadcasting services, especially to hinterland and border communities.
â�¢ To promote the growth of Guyanese expression through diversified programming that reflects Guyanese rich cultural diversity, traditions, history, attitudes, opinions, ideas, beliefs and values, and to provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern.
â�¢ To ensure that commercial and community licences, taken as a whole, are controlled by a diverse range of Guyanese persons or groups.
The committee also recommended that a national broadcasting system for Guyana should be a three-tiered one comprising public service (state-owned), privately-owned commercial, and community broadcasting services.
The Report emphasised that objectives of public broadcasting, (defined as state controlled media,) should among others,
â�¢ reflect the diverse social, cultural, political and economic nature of the Guyanese society by providing varied programming, a balance of information, education and entertainment for men, women and children of all ages, interests and tastes. And,
â�¢ provide important news and public affairs programming which meets the highest standards of journalism, including fair and unbiased coverage, impartiality and balance.
In more specific terms, the committee addressed two issues relating to the State media:
i. Access to the State-owned media by political parties and the coverage of their political positions and activities.
The committee agreed that State-owned media should, in line with their public-service function:
â�¢ facilitate, during election season, access of political parties and candidates to the State media, based on objective and fair criteria governing allocation methods, airing times, and qualification thresholds as established by the broadcast authority on advice from the Guyana Election Commission.
â�¢ 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.
â�¢ facilitate political parties and candidates in their right of reply (this principle should not be exclusive to political parties).
ii. The State monopoly in radio broadcast. The committee agreed that, while the state media have a special role to play in national development, the monopoly of State radio should be removed and the radio spectrum be opened to other licensees where technically and otherwise possible.
The Committee also made detailed recommendations with respect to Privately-owned commercial broadcasting, Community Broadcasting Services, Unconventional Broadcast Frequency Users and A National Broadcasting Authority, (NBA)
Drafting Instructions: National Broadcast Authority
With respect to the proposed National Broadcasting Authority (NBA), the report stated that,
â��The NBA must be independent and autonomous within the framework of the constitution, true to the spirit and letter of its establishing legislation, answerable only to the National Assembly and must serve the public interest and the national good.â��
Drafting instructions were also provided by that Committee and they included,
that â��The broadcasting authority shall be responsible for the regulation, supervision and development of the national broadcasting system â�� which includes private, public and community broadcast services â�� in line with the national broadcasting policy and in the interest of the public and the national good.â��
that, â��The National Broadcasting Authority should have legal and regulatory powers to monitor and enforce compliance with all broadcasting standards and codes set out in legislation or regulations.â�� and that
The authority should have powers, inter alia, to:
*formulate the terms and conditions for issuing licences for radio, television or any other new broadcast technologies;
*establish a system of monitoring the transmissions of licensees to ensure their adherence to the broadcasting legislation and regulations;
*investigate complaints as well as initiate investigations into alleged broadcasting violations;
*set up mechanisms to resolve conflict through arbitration, conciliation, mediation and other forms of dispute resolution;
*recommend to the National Assembly through the relevant Minister new legislation or changes to existing broadcast legislation in light of new developments in technologies, public policy, international practices, etc.
Some of the guidelines for broadcasting suggested by the Committee included,
*that all broadcasters make provisions for a personâ��s right of reply.
* that all programmes should be open minded, fair, accurate and show a respect for truth in ways that do not reflect or under-represent any significant strand of thought and that accuracy is founded on a commitment to check, cross-check and double-check, wherever possible gathering first-hand information from credible documentation, official spokespersons or fully attributable or eye-witnessed sources;
*that programmes dealing with controversial public policy or matters of political or industrial controversy must meet standards of impartiality, fairness and accuracy while maintaining a proper respect for truth and integrity always ensuring that opposing views are never mis-represented; and that
*the reporting of news should be dispassionate, wide-ranging and well informed. In reporting matters of political, industrial or other controversy, the main differing views should be given due weight in the period during which the controversy is active. News judgments should always take account of events as well as arguments, and editorial discretion must determine whether it is appropriate for a range of views to be included within a single programme or item.
Appointment & Regulation
The Committee also recommended that the authority shall regulate its own procedures adhering to the principles of natural justice, transparency and impartiality. The committee recommends that in performing its tasks (such as deciding on license applications, investigation of complaints, and the drafting of codes) the authority make use of public hearings, open meetings and public seminars. This, the committee believes, would increase public confidence in and understanding of the operations of the authority and the broadcast sector, as well as, improve the level of accountability of license holders.
Finally, the committee recommended that the National Broadcasting Authority be headed by a Board of Commissioners comprising not less than 3 and no more than 5 members who would be selected by the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Appointments and appointed by the President. To widen the range of choices, commissioners, other than the chairperson, could be allowed to give their services on a part-time basis.
Prime Ministerâ��s Mis-representation
It should, therefore, be evident that contrary to the representation by the Prime Minister in the National Assembly yesterday, Thursday March 3, 2011, there could be no misinterpretation of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on RADIO MONOPOLY, NON-PARTISAN BOARDS and BROADCASTING LEGISLATION. The refusal of the Government to present the relevant Legislation is therefore a clear manifestation of their desire to maintain a monopoly on Radio and political control of the State controlled NCN.
The 2003 CommuniquÃ©
This reluctance by the PPP/C Administration to present the Legislation was dealt with extensively in the talks between President Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition in 2003. Section 2.4 of the resulting CommuniquÃ© dealt with this matter.
â��2.4. Radio Monopoly and Non Partisan Boards.
The President and the Leader of the Opposition agreed to the following:
In accordance with the guidelines agreed to by the joint Committee in its final report the appointment of non-partisan Boards of Directors of the state-owned media and the NFMU was approved and would be implemented within four (4) months.
â�¢ The draft broadcasting legislation which will include provisions for the creation of a National Broadcasting Authority, would be ready for consultation with two (2) months and be laid in the National Assembly within four (4) months from 1st May 2003
â�¢ Equitable access (based on Parliamentary representation) to the state-owned media by all Parliamentary Parties (as distinct from government) would be instituted without undue delay.
â�¢ The independent National Broadcasting Authority would be the licence issuing authority for all â��commercialâ�� licences for commercial frequencies for radio and television.
â�¢ The NFMU would be responsible for providing technical advice to the NBA for the granting of commercial frequency licences.
â�¢ The Interim Broadcasting Committee would be disbanded immediately the NBA comes into existence.
â�¢ Taking into consideration the options presented in the final report of the Joint Committee, the relationship between the NFMU and the NBA will be determined after the consultation on the draft broadcasting legislation.
â�¢ There would be a freeze on the granting of all new commercial frequencies for television and radio by NFMU until such time as the new broadcasting legislation comes into effect.
â�¢ Both leaders agreed that priority would be given by the NBA to the granting of commercial radio licenses using the statutorily enshrined criteria which emphasise high standards of broadcasting and serious penalties for their infringement.â��
The Draft Legislation
Regrettably, the first Draft of the Broadcast Bill, finally produced two years later in 2005, and not in September 2003 as undertaken in the CommuniquÃ©, varied substantially from the recommendations. The Government was embarrassed into withdrawing it after media exposure with a clear undertaking that it would have been revised. Six years later this has not yet been done.
It is evident that the PPP/C Administration has no intention of implementing the recommendations of that Committee for obvious reasons. The establishment of the Independent Broadcast Authority would mean that President Jagdeo would have had no authority to suspend the License of CNS Channel 6 as he unilaterally did a few years ago; the handpicked Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB), would have been disbanded; the unconstitutional ERC and its puppet Chairman would have no authority to hold media seminars and interfere in media matters; NCN Radio and Television would be regulated by the NBA and not controlled by the PPP; Private radio stations would be licenced irrespective of the views of the PPP Administration; Independent TV and Radio Companies would obtain permission to extend their signals; and, there would be no longer the Government monopoly. Significantly, the Administration would have had no role in holding discussions with the IRO about the State establishing a Television Channel for Religious Broadcasts. The IRO, by negotiating with the Government for a Religious Channel run by the Government, is therefore collaborating with the PPP Administration to break commitments made to stakeholders in Guyana and aiding them in their continuous breaches of the Guyana Constitution.
If democracy is to be achieved, the people of Guyana must have recourse to alternatives. It is obvious that such a time has come.
Peopleâ��s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Friday4th March 2011
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