Broadcast advisers face stern test - Hinds
Stabroek News
May 16, 2002

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Prime Minister Sam Hinds has stated that the bipartisan Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) faces a stern test following the recent airing of a tape by prison escapee Andrew Douglas.

The Prime Minister could not confirm whether the committee had already reviewed the tape but assumed this was done. He told reporters on Monday that in some situations there were not only issues of right against wrong but also "rights against rights" that had to be considered.

Hinds did not speculate on the outcome and recommendations of the committee but said the ACB may "stumble on a solution." He stated that there could be some thought given to how the tape was created and the type of sophisticated equipment used.

This, together with the perceived right to air the tape and the failure to immediately inform the police of its existence, could also be taken into consideration, he said.

He stopped short of giving a time frame the ACB may take to arrive at a conclusion of its analysis of the incident.

The Prime Minister had earlier noted that the memorandum of understanding signed by President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Desmond Hoyte had stated that the minister responsible would act upon the recommendations of the ACB.

He asserted that he, as the minister responsible, would do so but also pointed out that some purists of the law had stated this was not in keeping with legislation since, according to the law, the minister could act on his own discretion.

The Douglas tape appeared last Thursday on television stations VCT Channel 28 and WRHM Channel 7. The following morning it was aired on the morning programme Wake Up Guyana on Channel 9.

Douglas, who escaped from the Georgetown Prison on February 23 together with Dale Moore, Shawn Brown, Troy Dick and Mark Fraser, appeared on the tape dressed in what looked like army fatigues.

He had what seemed to be a high-powered rifle in his hand and was apparently reading from a prepared statement in the background.