The role of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting
May 24, 2002
Letters on stuff
Please assist me and I am sure many other Guyanese who are trying to understand why Prime Minister Sam Hinds is determined to have the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting review a decision already arrived at i.e. that it has no mandate to pronounce on the appropriateness of the broadcast of the Andrew Douglas tape.
Personally, I can think of nothing wrong as a news item with airing the tape, leaving out those names having regard to the law on defamation. I can think of no crime the publishers have committed by airing the tape.
What does strike me however is that once again this government is attempting to interfere with the freedom of the press and an even less subtle attempt to throw-up a smoke screen - to divert attention from the fiasco at Bermine and the consequential destruction of the nation's bauxite industry and the ruin of hundreds of families.
R. Joseph Eleazar,
We quote from a document published by the Advisory Committee:
"Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB)
What is it?
The Advisory Committee on Broadcasting was established on 15th November, 2001 as a semi-autonomous body, pursuant to regulations made under the Guyana Post and Telegraph Act, Chapter 47:01.
It comprises a chairman and two members, nominated by Guyana's President, Leader of the Opposition, and Private Sector. Its tenure extends until the establishment of a Broadcasting Authority.
What it does
1) Advises the Minister on the issuance, suspension and/or termination of television broadcasting station licences (including termination of unlicensed broadcasts)
2) Monitors the adherence to or breach of broadcast standards relating to content by licencees
3) Receives and investigates public opinion or complaints on broadcast standards
4) Maintains a working relationship with such bodies as are established by the industry to enforce broadcast standards
5) Advises on appropriate action in cases of violations of the conditions of the licence after due process of investigation
6) Performs any other duties the responsible Minister may ask it to assume within the confines of these regulations and the Act.
The general understanding was that the Committee would advise on appropriate action in cases of violations of the conditions of the licence (see item 5 above) which is in fact the role usually performed by a Broadcasting Authority.
The Committee's own recent interpretation of its duties has therefore come as a surprise. It has also received some complaints on which it is still to adjudicate.