…PM clears air on delay of Linden TV
PRIME MINISTER, Moses Nagamootoo has denied any manoeuvre to deny the people of Linden a television station and has flayed trade unionist Lincoln Lewis who has accused the government of having a sinister plot on the issue.
Lewis made his comments in a letter to the editor of this newspaper on Saturday. “Prime Minister Nagamootoo, who has responsibility for the information sector, continues to find excuses to deny Lindeners the return of their television station. Since coming to office he has moved with a high degree of alacrity to realise broadcasting access to the Amerindian communities, who are not only allowed to determine their management but also the content of their programmes. Now he is moving to establish community broadcasting service in Bartica,” Lewis wrote in his letter.
He added: “Given the clear inequity in treatment, the denial to Linden its community television is not only discriminatory but also carries a sinister political agenda to continue to deny a people their fundamental rights, which the High Court upheld in 2008. The PPP/C government contempt for the Guyana Constitution (Article 147), 2008 court ruling, and 2012 Agreement, is being continued under the APNU+AFC.”
However, Nagamootoo said the opinions by Lewis on Linden TV are regrettably not based on facts. “Mr. Lewis could not have been speaking for Mr. Sharma Solomon who undertook to carry out the decision of the Consultative Meeting. That decision was for the Board of Trustees of Region 10 Broadcasting Trust to include several other representatives of the people of Region 10,” the Prime Minister said.
He added: “The outlying regions, Region 1 (North West District) and Region 9 (Rupununi) are receiving radio programmes on a regular basis for the first time since the establishment of the community stations. The extension of this service to Bartica, Mahdia, Aishalton and Orealla is long overdue. It is a cheap shot taken by Lewis at our indigenous people, and he should retract his offensive insinuation that our Amerindian people were getting their needs for communication met, as a result of some sinister plot by OPM.”
Controlled by community
Meanwhile, Lewis said Prime Minister Nagamootoo must be told that when the Trust was established by the people, the spirit and intent was for it to be controlled by the community. He said there was no intent for the Office of the Regional Chairman to chair its board. “Sharma Solomon, under whose leadership the citizens were allowed to establish the Trust, his membership on the board was not because of the office he held but the leadership he delivered to the people. As the APNU and AFC rightly demanded the will of the people be respected when they held the parliamentary majority in 2011, and in 2015 with securing the Executive and Parliament, so too must they respect the will of people who established the Trust,” Lewis declared.
He said seeking to foist the Regional Chairman into the Trust as its chairman is violating the rules and intent that established the Trust, and transgressing the will of the people in the management of their organisation. “This sinister agenda to control and deny the people continues the PPP/C’s contempt for them and the seizure of their assets and resources in furtherance of a few. What the prime minster is seeking to execute, having been a politician for decades and also in a different era, is Machiavellian at its most ruthless. When a senior minister was confronted by me with the idea that Region 10 might rebel in 2020 given the mistreatment they continue to receive, the response was: ‘They have no alternative since they will not go to the PPP/C, we will continue to get their support.’ This type of politics where people are seen as mules and treated with contempt is self-serving and destructive, and we must reject it,” Lewis wrote.
However, the PM said these consultative meetings became necessary after the stakeholders in Region 10 formally wrote him expressing concern about the lack of wide representation on the Board of the then Region 10 Broadcasting Inc. “At the time when the Region 10 Broadcasting Inc was registered, Mr. Solomon was the elected Regional Chairman and it was in that capacity that he headed the entity. Since then, Region 10 has elected a new Chairman and councilors. Accordingly, after consultations, it was decided that the Board of the Trust should include new directions. Mr. Solomon fully agreed to this and committed to taking the agreed actions to increase the representation of stakeholders.”
Nagamootoo added that the Channel 13 Linden frequency has long been identified for transfer to the Region 10 Trust. The license for the frequency has to be assigned by the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA), which has been awaiting the changes to the Board of Trustees before taking action.
“For several months, no movement was made on the changes to the Trust in spite of reminders to Mr Sharma. An approach was made to the Trust’s attorney who has assured that the changes would be made and registered. There are no manoeuvres or machinations by OPM whatsoever. The comparison between Region 10 and Amerindian Communities getting community stations is disingenuous and divisive. Region 10 has and continues to receive both TV and radio service,” the PM added.
Only recently this newspaper reported that Lindeners’ patience might be growing thin, as it related to the establishment of the town’s very own television station that was promised by the current administration within the first 100 days of taking office. Pressure is mounting on former Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon to resolve outstanding issues that have reportedly held up the process.
Speaking to this newspaper, residents expressed deep disappointment and frustration over a process that seems unending. Some residents explained the need for the town to have its own television station, as there was much to be desired about the Friday edition of the NCN’s Linden Branch newscast. “What I am saying is that they promise us this thing so long and we can’t get it up to now. There are so many things going on in Linden, people want to air their concerns and their views, not everybody got money to buy papers every day or read news online, and we need our television [station] so that we can see what’s going on in our community at least three times a week. Once a week is not good enough for Linden, we need our station,” a market vendor had told this newspaper.