Hinds explains Channel Nine suspension
-urges licence holders to work with ACB
Stabroek News
July 5, 2003

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Prime Minister Sam Hinds confirmed yesterday that his office had suspended the broadcasting licence of Hoyte Blackman Television (HBTV) Channel Nine for 24 hours for the airing of what was deemed as “content that could damage the fabric of our society.”

The channel was taken off the air at 1 am on Thursday to 1 am yesterday. Hinds, the minister with responsibility for broadcasting noted that the station had complied with the penalty.

In a press statement, Hinds said that the decision to suspend the station came out of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) and was grounded in the Memorandum of Understanding dated November 7, 2001, which was signed by President Bharrat Jagdeo and then Leader of the Opposition, the late Desmond Hoyte. The three members of the ACB were nominated by the President, the Leader of the Opposition and the private sector.

The three-member panel said in its letter to the Prime Minister on June 25, 2003 that on June 3, 2003, the HBTV Channel Nine programme, ‘At Home With Roger’ contained statements which were adjudged as being likely or calculated to incite or inflame racial intolerance and to be offensive to public sensibilities. “In our opinion HBTV has breached the terms of their licence by airing a programme, the content of which could damage the fabric of our society and lead to national discord and intolerance. Accordingly we are constrained to recommend that in accordance with the Post and Telegraph Act (Cap 47:01) 4.23 B, you suspend HBTV for a period of 24 hours from evening sign-off on a predetermined date, as a penalty for breaching the terms of their Licence.” Hinds’ statement noted that HBTV had complied with the penalty.

The Prime Minister reminded licence holders that they were entirely responsible for the broadcast content of their stations. Hinds encouraged licence holders to work with the ACB in keeping their various presenters aware of the steadily improving standards of television broadcasting in Guyana.

This is not the first time that Channel 9, formerly NBTV, has run afoul of the ACB. It currently has a case pending in court following another suspension of its licence by the ACB in December last year over broadcasts that were found to be unacceptable. Lawyers for the television station then challenged the PM’s suspension of the licence and the matter is still to be determined in court.

Prior to that and also more recently, numerous complaints surfaced about the content of various programmes on the television station.