Prime Minister says will ask broadcast advisers to reconsider hands-off decision
May 19, 2002
Articles on Mashramani Day Jailbreak
Prime Minister Sam Hinds is to ask the Advisory Committee on broadcasting to reconsider its decision not to rule on the appropriateness of the airing of the Andrew Douglas tape by a number of television stations earlier this month.
He told Stabroek News that the ACB was established because of concerns about the minister being empowered by the regulations under the Post and Telegraph Act to determine the issue of good taste, as regards programme content.
He said that the task of the ACB was to act like a jury and in the light of that he would be asking the committee to review its decision not to rule on the tape.
Last week the ACB said in a statement that "much of Guyana's daily television is offensive. Much is accusatory, contentious and inflammatory.
"If the ACB were to do the bidding of complainants in relations to sanctions against stations, we would become, simply another combative force in the melee. This is not our intention or mandate."
For those reasons it said "we will not pronounce on the broadcast of a tape recording by a `Wanted Man' last week by television stations last week [sic]."
The committee reiterated that it was "a force for moral suasion, technical and professional improvement and a catalyst for placing `ethics' high on the agenda of the broadcast industry in Guyana."
Following the airing of the tape on VCT Channel 28, WRHM Channel 7 and NBTV Channel 9, Prime Minister Hinds said, he had received a number of complaints and telephone calls and had referred the complainants to the ACB, recommending that they "demand an inquiry, a review, and a pronouncement and any recommendation to the minister."
However, he said, the issue of sanctioning the stations rested with the ACB to advise him on making a judgment call and that one course of action could be the revocation of the stations' licences.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon also called for the stations that aired the tape to be sanctioned.
Douglas and four accomplices escaped from the Camp Street jail on February 23, killing a prison officer and seriously injuring another during the breakout.
The five are considered armed and dangerous and have generated great fear and unease in society as a result of some the activities in which they are said to have been involved.