The Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) is considering serious sanctions for errant broadcasters, who continually defy the rules for responsible dissemination of information during the elections period.
Chairman of the Broadcast Authority, Leslie Sobers
According to Chairman of the GNBA, Leslie Sobers, while the temporary ban/suspension is not a definite course of action for those found in breach, the authority will use those powers at its disposal.
“We have been warning broadcasters to be wary of content, especially during the elections period. The authority does not adopt a harsh stance to errant broadcasters, but if they continue to be defiant in the face of what is at stake during the elections, I believe a temporary ban is a reasonable consideration.
We therefore urge broadcasters to act professionally, and to ensure that your programmes and programming are fair and equitable to all stakeholders.
The Broadcasting Act has an inherent fairness doctrine which forms part of the conditions of the broadcast licence. We will be holding our broadcasters to those standards and conditions.
From now until March 2020, our immediate focus will be on broadcasters’ conduct during the run up to Elections. We will continue to advocate for responsible and fair coverage,” Sobers added.
The Chairman stressed that “enshrined in the Broadcasting Act, there is a fairness doctrine, which means that broadcasters, when dealing with controversial issues, must cater for balance and fairness with respect to treatment, time and space allocation”.
In addition, the GNBA Head said that the authority has been meeting with officials of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Ethnic Relations Commissions (ERC).
Similar to ERC and GECOM, the authority holds the responsibility of monitoring for content that may incite racial hatred, crime/ public disorder.
Sobers pointed out that the GNBA will soon be allocating its representatives to work in collaboration with GECOM and the ERC.
Further, he noted the need for the code of conduct for GECOM to be reviewed and updated in preparation for the upcoming elections.
At a recent meeting with GECOM, it was agreed by officials that in addition to signing on to the media code of conduct, the principles stipulated in the document should reflect guidelines for posting content and opinions on social platforms.
“The populace is gradually moving away from the mainstream media. Social Media is continuously growing, and news agencies and broadcasters should be cognizant of the fact that they have influence on their followers,” officials of the GNBA had said.