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-Nagamootoo vows review of Jagdeo’s radio licencesAs Guyana switches gear for early general elections on May 11, the Opposition has once again raised objections over the ruling party’s use of state resources on the campaign trail.MP Moses NagamootooMember of Parliament and Prime Ministerial candidate for the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)/Alliance For Change (AFC) front, Moses Nagamootoo, yesterday also said that note has been taken of the deliberate hijacking of the airwaves and of several news outlets.“It is a form of electoral rigging. If you could access state resources, as a political contender to the exclusion of all others, this is part of the hypocrisy of the ruling party which claims it is democratic yet rigs the system in its favour.”The coalition intends to routinely address matters with the independent Media Monitoring Unit (MMU), whenever infractions occur. MMU, which is funded by the international donor communities, monitors the local media, including the radio and television stations, and newspapers to ensure balanced coverage of the campaign.Specifically, the Opposition has remained angry after former President Bharrat Jagdeo approved several radio and cable licences days before he ended his constitutional two-terms in office back in November 2011.Multiple frequencies went to PPP’s newspaper, The Mirror; Jagdeo’s best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi “Bobby” Ramroop, and another five to an overseas-based sister of Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud. Persaud happens to be the nephew-in-law of Jagdeo.The former President did not stop there. He also granted two television cable licences to close associates–Brian Yong and Vishok Persaud. Persaud is the son of the late former Government Parliamentarian and Agriculture Minister, Reepu Persaud, while Yong was a candidate for the ruling party during the 2011 elections.Reportedly, the 2.5 Gigahertz band to Persaud and Yong are capable of offering other services,Dorian Johnson Jersey, including catering to smart phones and the popular tablets computers. Radio and telephone services could also be offered using this band.Ramroop was allowed, under highly controversial circumstances,Larry Allen Cowboys Jersey, to take control of television Channel 28, then granted hundreds of millions of dollars in concessions to establish a newspaper,Nathan MacKinnon Team North America Jersey, Guyana Times, which is now aligned to the ruling party.Head of the Broadcasting Authority, Bibi ShadickTo make the licences’ approvals appear transparent, Jagdeo had also okayed single frequencies to a number of individuals.Disclosures of those approvals immediately sparked widespread condemnation from prominent media houses which were shunned and criticisms from local and international bodies, including the local diplomatic communities. Among those sidelined by Jagdeo were the independent newspapers, Kaieteur News and Stabroek News, and televisions stations like CNS 6, WRHM 7, Capitol News, HBTV 9 and RBS 13.President Ramotar had promised to review the issuance of those licences but there has been silence. Following protests by media owners and others, Ramotar had promised to regularize the issue in three weeks with the Broadcasting Authority to speed up other applications.However, more than two years later, and with Guyana heading now into elections,Raphael Varane Jersey, there has not been much movement.According to Nagamootoo yesterday,Andres Iniesta Barcelona Jersey, because of the iron-grip that the ruling party has on a significant section of the media, there is very real fear that while the elections on May 11 will be free, there are questions whether it will be fair.“How can you trust these people? We have already said that you will probably have an election that will be free but will it be fair? Basically the playing field is uneven.”He said that the Opposition continues to take note that the government has unrestricted access to strategic resources, including domination of the public media as well as the “crony” media that“Jagdeo had set up by issuing frequencies to his friends and party and relatives and party hacks.”Nagamootoo made it clear that the Opposition remains convinced that the current situation has created an “uneven game”.“The (Guyana) Chronicle for example has become a very obscene, propaganda broadsheet of the ruling party. You can see on a daily basis the way the editorial content… the news that are twisted in favour of the ruling party. It is a PPP rag. The Guyana Times as well has been showing its true colors. So too have the so-called independent radio stations.”The MP vowed to have his Government, after elections,Wesley Matthews Mavericks Swingman Jersey, review all the radio and cable licences that have been allocated.“We will also move to ensure that the Broadcasting Authority is reformed and sanitized to purge it of party and political contamination. And therefore, that body will be tasked to review the frequency allocation and to consider applications on their merit.”The situation is even more difficult as the Broadcasting Authority, headed by Bibi Shadick, a MP for the ruling party, has already reported that very few frequencies for the Demerara area are available now for allocation.This means that even if new licences are to be granted, it will mean very little.The Ramotar administration, hard pressed to recall the licences, has defended Jagdeo, saying he did nothing wrong.The administration was silent on accusations that one businessman – Maxwell Thom- was granted a licence although he was facing financial problems in 2011.
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