THE European Union (EU) has considered lending support to the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) to monitor the airwaves during the upcoming elections season.
Representatives of the EU visited GNBA and met with the authority’s Chairman, Leslie Sobers. The EU’s visit was part of an exploratory and fact finding mission to determine whether they should propose additional monitoring support to Guyana for the upcoming General and Regional Elections.
Sobers told the EU representatives that the GNBA will be collaborating with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) as it relates to monitoring broadcast content at the impending elections, slated for March 2020. It was also pointed out that the GNBA will be developing a Citizen Monitoring Programme that will further increase its monitoring capacity overall.
The primary focus of the engagement between the EU representatives and the GNBA was to garner an understanding from the GNBA on the state of affairs of the broadcasting landscape in Guyana and to establish from the authority, its perspective as to whether citizens have easy access to information.
Sobers, in outlining the present state of the broadcasting sector, informed the EU Representatives of the geographical zones established for television, radio and cable broadcasting.
The chairman also informed the EU representatives of the remit of the authority and more specifically, what, how and why the authority monitors broadcast content; and the fact that monitoring is done within the parameters of the law.
He also gave a brief historical background on broadcasting in Guyana and the possible role of the GNBA in monitoring social media, within the confines of the Cybercrime Act 2016.
The Chairman also indicated to the representatives the level and ease of access to information available to Guyanese in various parts of the country.
It was reported that with the General and Regional Elections just around the corner, GNBA will be seeking international assistance to monitor the local airwaves for infractions.
“Many infractions are expected around elections time…so we will be seeking external assistance to monitor the airwaves…international assistance,” said Sobers in a recent report.
Sobers said the authority has started negotiations with entities from countries such as the United States of America (USA), Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados and Europe.
“We are looking at all the opportunities available and what we could get from those companies,” he said. The GNBA is also engaging the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) and will soon be approaching the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)’s media monitoring unit when it is established.
“Our country will be moving into a period that has its own excitement and during this time we intend that there should be no misuse of the airways…be assured that defiance and violations will be treated appropriately,” said Sobers.
It was also reported that media monitors will be drawn from different age groups, communities and organisations from across the country to aid the GNBA in its efforts to ensure that broadcasters comply with regulations.