No hearing required for suspended TV stations
-argues Attorney General Singh

Stabroek News
January 14, 2003

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At the continuation of the matter involving the suspension of the television licenses of HBTV Channel 9 and CNS Channel 6 yesterday, Attorney-General (AG) Doodnauth Singh argued that there was no requirement for a hearing for the purposes of suspension.

Meanwhile, attorney-at-law Hubert Rodney, appearing on behalf of Prime Minister Sam Hinds, has contended that the proceedings against the defendants in the matter were misconceived while the procedure adopted was erroneous. Rodney's arguments were supported by attorney Khemraj Ramjattan, who is representing the members of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB).

In support of his arguments, the AG cited a Trinidad Court of Appeal judgement in the case of Rodwell Murray against the Police Service Commission (PSC). According to Singh, the PSC had suspended an Assistant Police Commissioner and it was argued that the suspension should not have taken place without the latter being given an opportunity for a hearing. But a ruling in favour of the Asst. Police Commissioner by Justice Ramlogan was later overturned by the Court of Appeal presided over by Justices Sharma, Nelson and Hamel Smith.

The court held that a suspension has to be carried out expeditiously and as such the Asst. Police Commissioner could not have been invited for a hearing.

Singh said that assuming the licensees were entitled to a hearing, the ACB had afforded them an opportunity for one when the plaintiffs were notified of the breaches and asked to respond. Additionally, the court heard, the ACB had appended transcripts of the respective broadcasts in letters to the licensees but the latter opted not to respond.

In December the Prime Minister had ordered a 48-hour suspension of the stations consistent with advice from the ACB. However, a nisi order granted by the High Court the following day had effected the temporary reversal of the suspension.

Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes is representing the plaintiffs.

The matter continues on Wednesday before Justice Dawn Gregory-Barnes. (Edlyn Benfield)

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